We're glad that you're investigating eco friendly products (and services) as you're obviously thinking about reducing your ecological footprint!
Eco friendly products minimize their overall impact on the environment and eco systems compared with other traditional products in the marketplace! This involves the life cycle of the product, from the extraction of raw materials, production processes, consumer usage, through to final disposal.
Below are various ways that a product or service may contribute towards being called eco friendly.
Sustainability means not exhausting natural resources or causing any ecological damage. Starting with the extraction of the basic raw materials, manufacturing, production, and so forth. The products are capable of being continued without any long term effects on the environment.
Animals are being pushed out of their natural
environments which is putting them at risk of extinction.
We must look after our ecosystems and wildlife! Among areas of concern are
deforestation, marine, and coastal degradation.
Not contaminating the air, land, soil, or water. Pollution comes in numerous forms and is defined as causing adverse change on the environment. This effects all living creatures. Examples of pollution include industrial waste (e.g. factory by-products) and hazardous waste (potential threat to public health and the environment.) There is also noise, thermal, or visual pollution.
Conserving important raw materials helps to protect the environment. Recycled materials use up considerably less energy as they are already industry ready. This cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions during the initial extraction and manufacturing processes. Less waste gets dumped into landfill sites.
Using substances that are not harmful to humans, animals, plants, and other organisms. This includes during the production processes (toxic waste), directly within the items that consumers purchase, or after the product has been discarded.
One area where toxic substances are commonly found is in everyday household cleaning supplies. These can be full of chemicals and poisons which are dangerous. In the end these toxins get flushed down drains and end up in the environment. There are now lots of safer and more natural products available.
Specifically grown without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. Organic products don't contain synthetic additives, preservatives, or genetically modified organisms. Fruits, vegetables, and grains are very popular organic produce. There are also organic meats, dairy, poultry, and eggs. These animals have been raised on organic feeds and are free from growth hormones and antibiotics.
You can find organic ingredients and materials in a wide range of products including household detergents, personal care items, cosmetics, textiles, and even furnishing. Before a product can show an organic certification on its labeling certain guidelines and regulations must have been met.
Many companies are cutting down on packaging (especially plastics) which is helping to reduce excess waste and save energy. Plastics and Styrofoam can sit in landfills for 500 + years! Alternatively using recycled or biodegradable materials for wrapping and packaging is helping the environment.
Waste matter which is able to be broken down into natural compounds by bacteria and other microorganisms. Decomposes within a reasonable amount of time. Biodegradable food packagings are a good example.
Disposal is an ever growing problem in today's world. A recyclable item converts waste into reusable materials. This helps to avoid excess rubbish in land fills and incinerators which can cause air pollution. Products that can be recycled include metals, paper, cardboard, plastics, and glass. Check for recycling symbols on products.
especially to save a significant amount of energy. Energy Star is the
International standard for energy efficient consumer products. It's
mark may be found on freezers, electrical appliances, electronics,
lighting, building materials, heating, cooling systems etc.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by changing the way a business operates. This is achieved by saving energy and/or by using renewable energy sources to make products. Man made GHGs include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. These gases contribute towards global warming.
This one is self explanatory really! Society has developed into a use once and throw away mentality. Examples of reusable items include - stainless steel drink bottles or reusable sandwich wrapping.
We've added this because many people who are into eco friendly products also care about animal welfare (not testing on animals). Often eco products are intertwined with being cruelty free. There are companies who subject helpless animals to pain and torture to test their products. This includes rubbing chemicals into their eyes, ears or skin, or ingesting, inhaling poisons.
Do your homework before deciding what products or services to purchase. Some companies claim that their products are eco friendly but they're deceptively using the term eco friendly for marketing purposes. This is called greenwashing.