March 2010
The Green Scene

The eco-friendly furor died down a bit at retail as the economy took a turn for the worse, but sustainability hasn’t left consumers’ minds at all. We asked our panel about their priorities — and how they affect their shopping habits.

Juliet, 36

Santa Rosa, Calif.

The trend toward environmentally friendly products is definitely here to stay, but I hope it evolves into a focus on products that change how we do things rather than just new models of the same old products. It feels like so many companies were jumping on the organic bandwagon to make money in the beginning that they forgot that part of natural products’ appeal is their simplicity.

The expensive organic fiber garden gloves will never be for everyone, but it wouldn’t take much on the part of nurseries to share the value of spending a little extra on heirloom-variety fruit trees or vegetables or on the benefits of drought-tolerant plants I am seeing more composters and rain barrels in the stores but not much instruction on how to get started with them. It would be great to see those types of things being used in the nurseries themselves and knowing the staff is knowledgeable about them before purchasing them.

Kyle, 31

Crown Point, Ind.

My initial response to the “green” trend was positive. Coming from Europe, the majority of what we ate was organic. When I came to the United States, eating food that wasn’t organic, I noticed it didn’t taste the same and wondered whether it was worse health-wise. I have read many articles that point out organic foods are not safer. Also, I don’t believe the companies that put out these products are always putting out products that qualify as organic. However, I do believe that retailers are doing a good job marketing these products. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be talking about it.

Do I think it is a trend like the pet rock? No. I think there is a huge demand by the people for organic and eco-friendly products. I also think these products will be regulated. And when we purchase something organic in the future, it will be truly organic.

Jeanette, 54

Berwyn, Ill.

As a home gardener, food preserver and Master Gardener, “being organic” is not a trend but a lifestyle. In the food consumption area of gardening, the terms organic and eco-friendly are more important than ever. We can have total control over what we plant, eatand grow.

I believe the struggling economy has had an impact: The cost of purchasing organic produce might be cost prohibitive to many families. However, this has impacted the number of home gardeners who are growing their own vegetables. It’s the best way to show what true organic produce tastes like and costs. The retailers do OK at marketing eco-friendly items, but being eco-friendly and organic should be the norm. I hope, as more “economy gardeners” reap the benefits of what they sow, that organic gardening will gain strength.