So you’ve resolved to start the New Year with a focus on being more earth-friendly in your purchases. You want to make sure that you spend your money on businesses that produce their goods and services in sustainable ways. You’ve resolved to avoid the big box stores in favor of local businesses when possible because you know there are lots of reasons to choose small and local over the big chains (these reasons include everything from avoiding greenwashed products to supporting the local economy.)
The first problem you’ll face in striving to be a more conscious consumer may be finding the right places to shop. Where do you look for a local hardware or office supply or cleaning supply store that shares your emphasis on the environment? How do you go about finding a building contractor for that kitchen remodeling project that is knowledgeable about installing environmentally friendly materials? If only there were a “green pages” directory that listed all your sustainable shopping options in one place you’d have a lot easier time doing right by the planet, wouldn’t you?
Well, if you live in Chicago, MeGoGreen has you covered.
A new venture launched in 2007, MeGoGreen has assembled an impressive searchable database of environmentally conscious businesses in the Chicago area. The businesses listed are assembled into almost 30 product categories, and keyword searches can produce even more targeted searches. The search results can be sorted based on location, and of course you can find more information for each company online before you venture out.
In addition to allowing consumers to quickly and accurately locate green products and services from the comfort of their keyboards, MeGoGreen also gives consumers the chance to save money in the process. According to the company’s home page, later this month MeGoGreen will be printing its 2007-2008 savings guide, which contains coupons and other savings offers from the businesses listed in the directory. This extra savings incentive seems like a smart way to stimulate the green economy to get “green curious” consumers to try things they may otherwise be wary of because the financial commitment.
Even more impressive is the unique way this savings guide is marketed to consumers. MeGoGreen collaborates with local schools and nonprofits to sell their savings guide as way to raise funds for organizations. For every guide sold, $10 goes to the school, sports team, or church running the fundraiser. Kids get to learn about ways to be responsible consumers, consumers get introduced to eco-smart, healthy products, and local businesses have a chance to gain exposure to a new audience. Talk about a win-win-win!
When I first came across the MeGoGreen booth at last year’s Naturally Healthy Children’s Expo, it seemed like a good idea that needed to gain traction before it could become viable. Since October, it seems like a lot of new businesses have come on board, and MeGoGreeen can now legitimately claim to be a comprehensive reference for environmentally focused consumers in Chicago.
And not a moment too soon. There’s a real need for a centralized source of information for people who want to smarter about their purchases, in this city and around the world. The Chicago Sustainable Business Alliance has created a similar green business guide for consumers, but it has gotten limited use. Having the local middle school band or Little League team get the word out about these businesses strikes me as a really smart way to reach committed greenies and less-committed consumers alike. After all, when the Girl Scouts show up on your doorstep offering you a way to save the planet and save money, how likely is it that you’ll tell her “no thanks”? Even the Onceler would have trouble saying no to pitch like that.
Photo credit: tailored.com