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. These programs include: Green Business, Fair Trade, Stopping Sweatshops, Climate Action, Green Energy, GMO Inside, the People & Planet Award for Green Businesses, Social Investing, Community Investing, Shareholder Action, and The Better Paper Project.
Green America, together with Global Exchange and International Labor Rights Forum, initiated the "Raise the Bar, Hershey" Campaign that has so far attracted over 30,000 participants to urge The Hershey Company to go fair trade, as well as adopt more transparent sourcing policies.
Green America hosts The Green Business Conference in both Chicago and San Francisco. The conference functions as both an informational and a networking event. Those who are already “green” or have a desire to be sustainable have the opportunity to learn and teach what they know. Green America, along with Global Exchange, have hosted the Green Festival for the past three years. The Green Festival is an event geared towards uniting green businesses, leading thinkers of the green movement, and thousands of concerned citizens hoping to reduce their environmental footprint. The festival includes exhibitions of green products, green workshops, expert speeches, and other forms of entertainment. Festivals are currently organized in Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Washington, and San Francisco.
The National Green Pages is 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.
- The Green American, a bi-monthly publication from Green America focuses on social and environmental issues. It provides in-depth articles on green technology, the green economy, green investment, and green-living tips and resources among other topics.
- The Guide to Socially Responsible Investing focuses on helping individuals ascertain which businesses, banks, and retirement plans to invest in. All institutions suggested must meet the standards imposed by Green America.