What are eco friendly products and services?

We'll look into the differences between eco friendly products and conventional goods.   

What are eco friendly products picture showing a bag with question marks

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 ecosystems compared with other traditional products in the marketplace.

This involves the life cycle of the product -

  • Starting from the extraction of basic raw materials

  • Next is the manufacturing

  • Production processes

  • Consumer usage

  • Through to the final disposal

WHAT DEFINES AN ECO FRIENDLY PRODUCT OR SERVICE?

Below are various approaches that may contribute to a product or service being called eco friendly.

Ferns with the writing choose eco friendly

sustainable practices

Sustainability means not exhausting our natural resources or causing any ecological damage. The products or services are capable of being continued without any long term effects on the environment. Crop rotation is a perfect example of a sustainable practice as it reduces soil erosion while increasing soil fertility and crop yield. There are fewer problems with pests and disease during the season's growth, and the changing harvests ensure the soil stays healthy.         

Avoiding the destruction of natural habitats

The aim of making eco friendly products is to respect and nurture our natural habitats. An environmentally conscious company takes exceptional care to protect our ecosystems and wildlife. They stay clear of damaging the environment in any way. Among areas of concern are deforestation, habitat fragmentation, and diminished food and water supplies. Animals are getting pushed out of their natural environments which puts them at risk of extinction.

Non-polluting

Mallard duck in clean riverKeeping our environment pure for all to enjoy

Finding alternative methods to produce goods so as not to contaminate the air, land, soil, or water. Pollution prevention takes strategic planning for each step of shaping a product into existence (from start to finish). Pollution comes in numerous forms and is defined as causing an adverse change in the environment. All living creatures are affected (big and small).

Types of pollution include industrial waste (from factories, mills, mining, construction, etc.) and hazardous waste which poses a potential threat to public health as well as the environment. There's also noise, thermal, and visual pollution.

Made from recycled materials

Conserving important raw materials helps to protect the environment. Recycled materials use up considerably less energy to make a product as they're already industry-ready. This cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions during the initial extraction and manufacturing. You can find a growing number of products nowadays made out of recycled materials, such as stationery, bags, furniture, and much more. 

Non-toxic

Non-toxic refers to substances that aren't harmful to humans, animals, plants, or other organisms. For goods to be classed as non-toxic, this must incorporate the production processes (no toxic waste), directly within the products that consumers purchase, or after the items are discarded.

One area where toxic substances are commonly found is in everyday household cleaning supplies. These can be full of dangerous chemicals. When these poisons get flushed down drains, they end up out in the environment. There are now lots of safer and more natural products available.

Organic

Organic avocado, limes, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, rosemary, olives, salt and pepperOrganic foods may have higher levels of antioxidants according to some research

Organic produce is cultivated without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. Fruits, vegetables, and grains are popular organic foods. You can also get organic meats, dairy, poultry, and eggs. The animals have been raised on organic feeds and are free from growth hormones and antibiotics. Organic products don't contain synthetic additives, preservatives, or genetically modified organisms.

Furthermore, you can find organic ingredients or materials in a wide range of goods, including home gardening supplies, health care supplements, personal care items, cosmetics, and textiles. Before a product can show an organic certification on its labelling, certain guidelines and regulations have to be met.

Less packaging

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! Ways to decrease packaging include bulk packs, and avoiding double packaging (an item wrapped up within another outer wrapping).

product/packaging is Biodegradable or compostable

The waste matter can be broken down into natural compounds by bacteria and other microorganisms and decomposes within a reasonable amount of time. Biodegradable food packaging and containers, and compostable bin liners are great examples.

product is long-lasting

Hemp ropeHemp is one of the most durable natural fibres

Nobody wants to buy a product that only lasts a short time before it wears out or breaks. This is a complete waste of resources, time, and money. Not to mention, annoying! A product that can withstand wear, and will last for a long time is definitely worth it. Hemp is a classic example of an amazingly robust and versatile natural fibre that's used for a multitude of things, from clothing to building materials.

Discarded product or packaging can be recycled

Disposal is an ever-growing problem in today's world. In one year, an average New Zealand household produces over a ton of rubbish. A recyclable item converts waste back into reusable materials. This helps to avoid all that extra rubbish in landfills and incinerators (which pollute the air). With this in mind, a finished product that can be readily put into your recycling bin is helping this situation.   

Energy-efficient products

Products that are designed specifically to save a significant amount of energy. NZ displays the Energy Rating Label (star rating) on new appliances so that consumers can compare the efficiency levels between similar models. Its mark is found on televisions, computer monitors, whiteware, heat pumps, and air conditioners.

carbon footprint reduction

Grass footprints representing carbon footprint

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by changing how a company operates. This is achieved by energy-saving tactics or by using renewable energy sources to make products. The primary man-made GHGs that we emit are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. These gases are believed to contribute to global warming.

A few ways that an operation can mimimise its carbon footprint is to move towards zero waste, or to source materials locally to save on long haul transportation. It's just as crucial for small businesses and sole traders to reduce their carbon footprint too, as it all adds up. 

Reusable items

This one is self-explanatory really! Society has developed into a "use once and throw-away" mentality. Examples of reusable items include - cloth nappies, cotton shopping bags, stainless steel drink bottles, fabric bowl covers, and beeswax sandwich wrapping.

Cruelty-free

Generally, people who are into eco friendly products also care about animal welfare. Often eco products are intertwined with being cruelty-free and will display a "not tested on animals logo or message".

A large number of companies subject helpless animals to pain and torture to test their products. This entails rubbing chemicals into their eyes, ears or skin, ingesting, or inhaling poisons (among other things). Some of the most well-known brands in the world (usually owned by corporations) are guilty of these practices. In New Zealand, it's legal to use animals for research, testing, and teaching purposes. This experimentation has to stop. 

eco friendly services

Eco friendly services may be any business that delivers a service to their customer that's environmentally responsible, for instance -

Building with the words green services and open
  • Organic catering

  • Natural, non-toxic cleaning

  • Repairing or up-cycling your old furniture

  • Chemical-free gardening and landscaping

  • Green business consulting

  • Sustainable event planning

  • Green building using sustainable materials and renewable energy resources

Background check companies and their products

Magnifying glass with the words find the truth underneath

You should now have a better understanding of what eco friendly products are all about. However, we recommend that you do your homework before deciding what products or services to purchase.

Companies may claim to "care about nature", or that their products are eco, green, natural, etc. but they could be using these terms solely as a marketing ploy. This scheme is known as greenwashing. 

Article by Justy


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