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TheStreet Open House

Where to Spend Your Green Money

But making the Toxic 100 list is inherently bad; being lower on the list, like Sony (78) rather than higher, like GE (7), only makes you less bad.

Because of the very specific focus of each list, it's not necessarily contradictory for companies to show up on both. But it does raise the question of how an eco-conscious consumer spends her dollars. Do you support these companies for the good they're trying to do globally or penalize them for the damage that they're doing locally?

Perhaps it's best to do both.

According to PERI's data, Anheuser Busch spews far more pollution from its metal works than from its glass works, so perhaps a first step is to start buying your Budweiser in bottles rather than cans.

Then drop a note to the folks in St. Louis telling them that you're happy about their efforts on the climate front, but still want to see more progress there and on other aspects of their environmental record. Climate Counts encourages this two-prong consumer effort by allowing people to email companies like A-B directly from its Web site.

Similarly, P&G's Duracell brand seems to be largely responsible for its appearance on the Toxic list; its paper and health and beauty products are far less problematic (from an air-quality standpoint). So send a note off to that company, too. Then, on your next trip to the supermarket you can feel good choosing Charmin paper towels (if you must buy paper towels at all) or Clairol shampoo even while you find a greener alternative to those copper-topped batteries.

Being an eco-conscious consumer always requires weighing goals and ideals along with practical things like price and quality. But lists like these that focus attention on critical corporate behavior make it easier to strike the right balance.

Eileen P. Gunn writes about the business of life and is the author of "Your Career Is An Extreme Sport." You can learn more about her at her Web site.
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