Purchasing decisions for green household essentials are often dictated by convenience. If you run low on toilet paper, paper towels or laundry detergent and you need it right away, you might drive several miles to a specialty store to buy your preferred eco-friendly brand. In reality, you'll probably just run to the 24/7 convenience store down the street and get a cheap, conventional standby and swear that you'll never repeat the error again. 

It happens all the time. It happens to me. I try my best to stock up on eco-friendly household staples but sometimes I need, tout de suite, a roll of TP, and the only place to get it is my corner store where the pickins are slim and non-green.

The genius of a new shopping website called Alice.com is that its designed so that dedicated green consumers are never faced with “oh my god I’m out and may have to settle for something eco-unfriendly” moments. If used properly, Alice.com eliminates superfluous trips to the store and you’ll never run out of just about everything for the home, from garbage bags to toothpaste to dish detergent to, yep, toilet paper. Added bonuses: the selection is huge, everything is competitively priced, and shipping is free.

Alice.com appeals to household micromanagers — this is what makes it stand out from sites like Drugstore.com. There’s an entire “Advanced Planning” menu where you can input information about the frequency of which something -- toilet paper for example -- is used and based on that schedule you can have items auto-shipped like clockwork. Or, based on what you buy, Alice will set up automatic reorder alerts. There are also budgeting tools for folks watching household spending.

Here’s the thing: Alice.com is not exclusively eco-friendly. In fact, the front page displays stuff like Axe Body Wash. But with the click of a button, you can filter search results to include only green items from reliable brands like Method, Seventh Generation and even Radius toothbrushes. The green selection isn’t mind-blowing but is still quite robust.

Perhaps the most useful feature of Alice.com, especially when shopping for large households, is that you can shop by room. Shopping online for sundry items for an entire house may be daunting but breaking it down by room — bathroom, cleaning closet, kitchen, office, pantry, nursery, etc. — makes the task easier to swallow.  

And since Alice.com is marketed towards Generation Overshare, you can use a "Me, My Shelf, and I" feature to share and recommend products, partake in "neighborhood" chat, upload photos, and brag about your own coupon-clipping prowess. Essentially, you're broadcasting your shopping and spending habits to an entire web-based community. You can even follow Alice on Twitter. Personally, I could care less if Barb from Omaha got a great deal on biodegradable dish soap, but to each his or her own. 

Alice.com wasn't founded by two savings-savvy suburbanite moms but by two male Microsoft expats. The name, I suspect, is an homage to the Brady Bunch's live-in maid/nanny/voice of reason. I haven't ordered anything (yet,) but I've done quite a bit of looking around. And there's a lot to look at. Would you rely on Alice to assist you with your household spending and help keep it green? Or is the thought of having toilet paper automatically sent to your house on a weekly basis just too much? 

MNN homepage photo: TimArbaev/iStockphoto

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Go ask Alice ... to buy TP
A new shopping website, Alice.com, make shopping for (and not running out of) green household necessities a lot easier.