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Being environmentally conscious seems futile post-Industrial Revolution, but making an effort with green household products does make a difference.

Maybe twenty years ago, Dear Abby posted a story about a father and young son on a beach covered in starfish. A high tide had marooned them, and the little boy kept rescuing the occasional creature by tossing it back into the ocean. The father finally stopped and said, “Son, there are so many: you can’t save them all so what you’re doing doesn’t matter.” The boy picked up another one, tossed it into the water and said, “But it matters to this one.”

Like most things on Dear Abby, the point was obvious and cringingly mawkish, and it probably reduced a hundred mothers to tears, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. One person planting a tree looks pitiful and ineffective against a national newspaper that cuts down 10,000 with every morning’s printing. But when it comes to the environment, such comparisons shouldn’t deter efforts. Every purchase does something: either maintaining the status quo of environmental practices or sending a message that consumers want something different. Eco friendly companies make purposeful efforts to reduce packaging, pollutants, and pesticide, so supporting them not only prevents deforestation, soot-covered birds, and poisoned run-off streams, but it makes a stand against big business practices. Buying green household products won’t make chemical spills disappear, but it might make them disappear in one parcel of land. To very knowingly sound sentimental: for the people, animal, and plants living there, it matters for that one.

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