THE GOODS : ECONOTES : For the Buying of the Green

The 1996 edition of Co-op America's National Green Pages is just out, and publisher Denise Hamler says it's the best issue yet.

This is the fourth edition of the directory. It aims to help consumers find businesses that have shown a commitment to solving environmental and social problems.

The new edition has a record 152 pages. "We have gone from a listing of 300 businesses to 1,600 in four years," Hamler said. "That's a big jump and it means that more people want to invest their money in responsible ways, so more companies are springing up to accommodate them."

The directory lists a range of companies whose products and processes are environmentally sound, and offers tips, such as how to start a food-buying club or look for a socially responsible job.

Every company is screened by the Washington, D.C.-based Co-op America staff. The directory includes familiar eco-names such as Tom's of Maine and Ben and Jerry's.

But Co-op America really likes to introduce small companies that offer an economic boost to their communities, Hamler said. For instance, the Women's Bean Project in Denver employs homeless women to make gift baskets of soup mixes and wine vinegars.

Hamler expects 80,000 copies of the 1996 directory to be distributed. People who join Co-op America (membership starts at $20) get a free copy; non-members can buy one for $5.95. Information: (800) 58-GREEN.

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