Green Living: Red Fish, Yellow Fish, No Fish

Hanging out in the shadows of the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle club is the action that consumers and retailers don’t want to talk about: Refuse.

“Refuse” means not buying something instead of choosing a greener, better, more local choice.

For years, I carried around a little Blue Ocean Institute wallet guide to consult when I wanted to purchase fish. The card lists fish species as being Red, Yellow or Green based on how vulnerable or healthy the stocks and practices are for different fish species. Download the latest version. 

Recognizing that sometimes choice is confusing, Whole Foods Market has announced that as of April 22, they will no longer sell wild-caught salmon that are in danger of over-consumption or are brought to market in unsustainable ways. They’ve opted out of the consumption chain. They’ve refused.


Starting Earth Day, April 22, the natural and organic supermarket chain will no longer carry wild-caught seafood that is “red-rated,” a color code that indicates it is either overfished or caught in a way that harms other species. The ratings are determined by the Blue Ocean Institute, an advocacy group, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.

I’m with Whole Foods Market. At the end of the day, buying-better isn’t going to work as long as we keep buying-more-and-more. The way we eat fish, for the most part, is unsustainable. Reading the book “Cod: The Fish That Changed the World” helped me understand how the ocean’s former plenty has been plundered, almost to none. The world’s fish stocks cannot survive increasing demand.

There is some good news, in some places, on some fishing grounds. For a look at the progress that’s being made to stabilize fish stocks worldwide, read the Monterey Aquarium’s 2012 Turning the Tide report.

For me, I choose to Refuse, most days, most months. The times I eat fish are few but purposefully chosen, and preferably bought from the person who caught it.

One Reply to “Green Living: Red Fish, Yellow Fish, No Fish”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *