Dec 19, 2014

What Are Eco Friendly Products? Featured

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A truly ecofriendly womanWith so many products claiming to be green or friendly to the environment, it is hard to know what truly constitutes an eco friendly product these days. Whether they are called green products, sustainable products or environmentally responsible products, these eco friendly products cause minimal harm to people and the environment. The manufacturing and/or consumption of these goods have a minimal impact on the environment. Although there are no universal certifications or standards to deem a product as eco-friendly, there are some questions that you can ask when trying to buy green.


Is the Production Process Eco Friendly?


Whether in a factory or on a farm, working conditions should be fair and protect human rights, like in the production of eco friendly jewelry. The treatment of animals is also a consideration. These days you can find differentiating product labels from hormone free beef to wild salmon.


If the product is a type of crop like produce or grains, soil pollution something to consider. The negative effects of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides are a big motivator on why we should go organic.


What Are the Negative Effects of the Production?


Think about what it takes to produce a product. Consider the amount of resources that are being used to put the item on the shelf. Is the product being produced in a big factory using a lot of electricity? Obviously handmade soaps or unprocessed foods require fewer diminishing natural resources than those being produced in a plant. That is, of course, unless the plant is being powered by renewable sources, like wind power or solar energy. Sustainable production helps to protect our diminishing natural resources.


Find out what other resources are being used to create the product. Is the company utilizing recycled materials, including recycled building materials, office supplies and production materials like compostable bioplastic? The most notable companies have zero waste facilities.


Now, think about what the production process is giving back to the environment. Does it include a lot of wasted scrap materials or pollution, like greenhouse gases or particulate matter? Are there harmful chemicals being released from factory smoke stacks into the atmosphere, like in plastic production? Consider the carbon emissions created in the shipping required for parts, packaging or distribution. Companies who support local vendors reduce their overall footprint.


How Safe Is the Product?


The product, including its parts or ingredients, should not create a health risk for you or your family. Be careful of products such as new carpet, pesticides, or air fresheners which could compromise your indoor air quality. Check the ingredients on products that come in direct contact with your skin, such as lip balm or deodorant. And be sure to keep an eye out for hazards such as VOCs and other chemicals.


The product should also be safe for the environment. Choosing products, like non-chlorine or other green cleaners, made from eco friendly or biodegradable materials will prevent harmful chemicals from getting into our drinking water or contaminating our soils.


How Efficient Is the Product?


If you decide to purchase this product, how efficiently does it work? The market is now full of more energy efficient choices, such as energy efficient appliances and LEDs that will help you to reduce your energy consumption. However, there is the tradeoff of replacement waste for energy reduction.


Also consider the water efficiency of a product. Does the product help you to conserve water, like a low flow showerhead or a recirculating pump?


How Much Waste Does Your Product Create?


The first thing that you generally do when you bring home a product is remove the packaging. Is it individually packaged, like tuna meals or yogurt cups? Or is this a product that you generally keep on hand and can buy in bulk? Look for packaging that consists of recycled materials that can be recycled again to promote closed loop recycling.


Buy it once, or at least as few times as possible. Whenever you can, buy a quality product. You will reduce the number of multiple replacements that would eventually end up filling our landfills.


When the usability of the item finally wears out, consider what options it may have. Did you buy reusable rather than disposable items? Could you repurpose it, like creative folk who convert old toilets into flower pots? Is it a refillable version, like ink cartridges, that help to reduce waste? And if all else fails, is it recyclable?


Help in Finding Eco Friendly Products


It may seem like an overwhelming feat to evaluate the entire ecological impact in order to determine how eco friendly a product really is. Luckily, there are a number of ecolabeling organizations that have certifications to help us in our search.


Organizations like the Rainforest Alliance and Green Seal examine products for their overall eco friendliness. The American Humane Association (AHA) helps you find food products that were created with animal welfare in mind. The USDA Organic certification helps to quickly locate foods grown without harmful chemicals. Organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council and Ancient Forest International help you identify products that reduce deforestation. ENERGY STAR helps you identify energy efficient appliances.


These organizations send products through an evaluation to help the consumer decipher which products are truly eco friendly and which are merely utilizing greenwashing tactics.



(2008) What Is Eco-Friendly? http://extension.unh.edu/news/2008/01/what_is_ecofriendly.html Retrieved February 4, 2011.

Photo by Filomena Scalise

 

7 comments

  • Comment Link Eco Friendly Ed Monday, 07 February 2011 12:14 posted by Eco Friendly Ed

    It is very difficult as a consumer to discern the difference between all of the products that claim to be green. It seems everything on the shelf these days is using green colors or some kind of green label pretending to be eco friendly. Many of these claims look real because they are using recycled packaging.

    Want to know if that product is really ecofriendly? Look to see if it was made China or some other country. If it was manufactured outside of your country you must consider delivery process of the product. The product had to be produced and then freighted to your country. Then, a semi transported it to a distribution center. Then, it was delivered to a store. Then, chances are, you had to drive to that store to purchase the item. That doesn’t sound very ecofriendly does it?

    Buying locally produced products from local businesses is a sure way to help the environment while also boosting your local economy. It solves so many issues all at the same time and only takes an extra moment to look for the “made in” sticker.

  • Comment Link KAB Tuesday, 17 January 2012 17:28 posted by KAB

    In my opinion, there are several illogical linkages in a green product supply chain that may not be very likable and may frustrate many green manufacturers. I believe the definition of eco-friendly should consider more on the processes of making the green products rather than creating unnecessary weightage such as the delivery mode and the waste management. Both of them including eco-labeling, etc should be together in a different cluster of the green management. Maybe other clustered have to be considered too to ensure the green manufacturers especially in the agricultural sector etc while understanding the green concept, are still able to become productive (as not to stop using existing machinery) since it is other green focus group job to ensure that they invent the green machines to be used by the farmers. The principle of sustainable development particularly in the economic area should not be jeopardized. There must be a clear separation between the green technology producers or TECHNICAL-GREEN whose main concentration is renewable energy for energy efficiency; and the green products manufacturers or NON-TECHNICAL-GREEN who are inventing home and consumable products/services that not directly related to pure energy generation. Such clarification is very critical and deem as the main motivating factor that should make businesses realize to keep on improving in their green jobs without damaging the socio-political-economic of the world that already in crisis. Remember green means sustainable and the environmental issue must never create other more important and on-going issues like food-supply and medicines.

  • Comment Link Hassan Sunday, 18 March 2012 08:07 posted by Hassan

    In my opinion, one should keep on improving in developing on green jobs; it would NOT damage the socio-economic status of the individuals and would cause improvement in the Psyche of the individuals due to avoidance of pollution. It would make the world more comfortable for living; those already in crisis or those who create crises would also switch over to it.
    We should remember that green means sustainable and an environmentally friendly activity.

  • Comment Link parfumerija Saturday, 28 July 2012 18:53 posted by parfumerija

    It's really a great and helpful piece of info. I'm glad that you shared
    this useful info. Please keep us informed like this.

    Thank you for sharing.

  • Comment Link CJ Thursday, 23 August 2012 22:47 posted by CJ

    A criteria to consider if a product is Eco-friendly: first, if it promotes waste material recovery, meaning to say, it helps to recycle non-biodegradable materials. Second, if the product helps in the conservation of water & electricity and lastly, if it reduces harmful gasses produced by harmful pesticides. Hope these 3 criteria will help you in choosing the right Eco-friendly products.

  • Comment Link Maria Pintado Tuesday, 30 October 2012 13:54 posted by Maria Pintado

    I have been recycling for many years and recently I noticed something very sad: urban waste containers were already without space for more. People don’t know or care how to recycle so they just trash plastic, glass and paper. They still have doubts about how to start so they put it all together waste containers. Another problem is that disclosure of what to do with used motor oil. The Garbage Companies should take action, and create awareness campaigns. The companies that say they are eco-friendly at the time of conception of the product packaging should be more practical and help the consumer. An example of a bad packaging (I will not refer the brand): a breadbox that had paper and plastic and for me it doesn’t seem that it will be easy to separate from each other, so in conclusion it goes all for the urban waste container.

  • Comment Link mitali vyas Saturday, 04 May 2013 19:43 posted by mitali vyas

    I totally agree!!

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