Building With the Future in Mind Since 1955

Rick Dubrow’s “On The Level” Column in the Cascadia Weekly; Published 7-4-07

You and I buy stuff.  Each and every dollar we pluck down makes a difference.  The food you may be snacking on while you read this may have traveled 1,500 miles or, perhaps, you may have biked down to the Farmers’ Market to purchase it from a local farmer.  Which purchase promotes the kind of community (and body) you believe in?

That’s an easy one, which is why I chose it.  Let’s go deeper………….

Say you’re a member of AAA and its time to renew your membership.  Is there an environmentally lighter option for securing emergency road service?  There sure is.  It’s called Better World Club (  Although both organizations offer similar services, AAA promotes driving and consumption, while Better World Club works to decrease miles traveled, donates 1% of revenue (not profit) to environmental cleanup and advocacy, and even offers emergency bicycle services!

Just how do you know where to plop down your dollars so as to be an intelligent, planetary light-weight versus a heavy-handed liquidator?

Let me offer you two simple options among many.

The first reference is the Business Directory produced by Sustainable Connections.  Simply put, this document lists and describes the more than 550 local businesses that promote the triple bottom line of a healthy environment, a strong community, and a fit bottom line.  With indexes by business category and by business name, I use this directory as the first place of reference when I need to buy something.  I adhere to the slogan ‘buy local, or bye-bye local’.  The last place I want to live is Anyham!  I adore Bellingham and our special sense of place.  A place made up of its natural wonders, as well as its unique business establishments who, as the inside cover of the directory tells us, “….are committed to quality of life in our region…… each striving to improve specific business practices for the benefit of our community, economy, environment and workplaces.” Pick up a directory at the Sustainable Connections’ office in theBellinghamTowers across the street from the Mount Baker Theater (119 N. Commercial Street, #350) from 9 am until 5 pm, Monday through Friday.

What if you want to buy something not manufactured or produced locally, though?  Sure, you may find a local vendor of items made by out of town firms, but how do you then compare the environmental footprint of the organizations producing the items themselves?  Here’s where you turn to “The Better World Shopping Guide” by Ellis Jones (New Society Publishers (  Not surprisingly, it’s available locally at Village Books, a Sustainable Connections member!

I’m looking at the electronics page, for example.  The best rating is an ‘A-‘ and this goes to Apple, Sony, Aiwa and Kodak, while the loser (with an ‘F’) is GE.  24 other firms get their own rating that falls between the best and the worst.  The supporting information offers you tidbits on ‘what you need to know’, some reasons why the winners and losers were selected, and suggests you find more detailed data at You’ll find ratings for banks, gasoline, supermarkets, retail stores, cars, seafood, chocolate, coffee, credit cards…….. 73 such categories.

Since every dollar you spend makes a difference, know that difference and shop wisely. And remember…… buy local, or bye-bye local.

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