Consumers Union

Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, is a nonprofit independent organization chartered in 1936 to provide consumers with information, education, and counsel about goods, services, health, and personal finance; and to initiate and cooperate with individual and group efforts to maintain and enhance the quality of life for consumers.

Do we know enough about genetically modified foods?

Genetically modified foods — you’ve heard about them, but you probably don’t know whether you’re eating them. They’re produced by splicing genes, those little segments of DNA that code for particular traits, from one plant or animal species and inserting them into another. Biotechnology companies are cooking up all sorts of techniques to engineer organisms in ways that they claim could make crops easier to grow, foods more nutritious, and production more efficient. But the jury is still out on the actual benefits these techniques will bring and there is growing concern about their impact on the environment and the …

How green is your pleasure machine?

They be jammin’. When you look at U.S. transportation habits, you start to wonder where in the world we’re all going, and why we’re working so hard to get there. The average household makes more than six car trips per day, each averaging nine miles. With busier schedules, we are each spending an average of 70 minutes a day in our cars, and traffic congestion doesn’t help. Average rush-hour delays due to roadway congestion in 68 U.S. cities more than doubled between 1982 and 1997, according to the Texas Transportation Institute. And trends suggest that things are getting worse. At …

Bright ideas for saving energy

Power plants and climate change have been on the minds of many consumers who lost electrical service and sweated out the record-breaking temperatures that recently hit areas across the country. Most experts believe the planet’s temperature has been rising as a result of increasing amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, helping to cause extreme weather patterns around the globe. Energy use in homes contributes significantly to the problem. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, home energy use is responsible for one-sixth of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. While space heating accounts …

The grass can be greener on your side of the fence

As summer approaches, we spend more time outside, and our annual commune — or battle — with nature begins. Whether it’s keeping your lawn from turning into a meadow, or protecting your home and garden from insects, be aware that some techniques are easier on the environment than others. Lawns have become the hallmark of the American yard. They provide a soft place for kids to play and a nice contrast to floral borders. However, in addition to requiring more time and effort to maintain than many other types of ground cover, their care and feeding can threaten the environment. …

Advice on how to cope with aging appliances

Before you buy, consider: Do you need a new product at all? Increasingly, consumers opt to toss belongings out before their useful lives are truly over. Rapidly changing technology is one reason for this trend — we want new products with new features. But often items are discarded because they are difficult to fix when broken. Consumers Union’s reader surveys indicate that consumers repair broken major appliances, electronic items, lawn mowers, and tractors about half of the time, and are much less likely to repair small appliances. In part, this is because highly automated production and solid-state assemblies make many …

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