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Green America (originally known as Co-op America until January 1, 2009) is a nonprofit membership organization based in the United States that promotes ethical consumerism. Founded in 1982, by Paul Freundlich, it is dedicated to harnessing the economic power of consumers, investors and businesses to promote social justice and environmental sustainability through helping responsible consumers and green businesses find each other in the marketplace. Businesses displaying the Green America Seal of Approval have successfully completed Green America's screening process and have been approved to be listed as a socially and environmentally responsible — or green — businesses in their National Green Pages directory. The Green America Approved seal is given to applicant businesses that operate in ways that support workers, communities, and protect the environment.
Co-op America had its roots in the cooperative, communities, environmental and social justice movements of the '70s. Founder, Paul Freundlich, developed the premise that there was a significant segment of Americans who had been touched and changed by the events and culture of recent decades, yet had not found a way to express that in their lives. At the same time, a cohort of local and regional businesses had grown out of the same values, yet lacked access to a customer base sufficient for growth. Co-op America began as a collaborative marketplace speaking to the shared interests of consumers (individual members)and producers (business members), mediated by a staff (worker members) - an elected governance structure which continues today. Initially, Co-op America presented information pertinent to an economy that would be socially and environmentally responsible through a quarterly journal ("Building Economic Alternatives"), a catalog of goods and services, and the organization took off with a progressive health insurance plan from worker-owned, Consumers United Insurance Company, that featured unisex rates and access to alternative medicine.
Co-op America received early support and inspiration from Consumers United's President, James P. Gibbons. Jim and key staff, Roger Neece and Lyn Thompson designed the Plan with Co-op America's Plan Representative, Margaret Flinter.
The Catalog was developed and supervised by Denise Hamler, who joined staff in 1982, and has continued to manage major program including National Green Pages and Green Festivals through the present. Alisa Gravitz, with her MBA from Harvard, became a consultant in 1983, and in 1990, succeeded Paul Freundlich as Executive Director. Paul has remained on the Board of Directors as Founder and President Emeritus.
Today, Green America runs several different programs focusing on environmental preservation and on the improvement of human rights, through the lenses of food, finance, labor, and climate.
Green America, with Global Exchange and International Labor Rights Forum, initiated the "Raise the Bar, Hershey" Campaign that has attracted over 30,000 participants to urge The Hershey Company to go fair trade, as well as adopt more transparent sourcing policies.
National Green Pages
Green America publishes the National Green Pages, the only nationwide directory of screened, socially and environmental responsible businesses in the United States. It is intended to connect consumers with green products from green businesses.