“Eco Friendly” is one of those terms that gets thrown around pretty often without much clarity as to what it actually means. Brands love to boast about their eco-friendly products and practices, but sometimes we don’t get much info beyond the vague labeling.
In this post, I’ll walk you through what it means to be eco-friendly, how to spot a fake, and how to make some easy changes in your day-to-day routine. If we all make a few changes, we can have a big impact 🙂
Eco Friendly Labels
When consumers see something advertised as being eco-friendly, we assume that the product, including its contents and production process, does no harm to the environment.
But the truth is, much of the eco-labeling we see today is not really regulated by anyone. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t have standards for the label. The International Standardization Organization (ISO) has a pretty complicated system of eco-labels, but terms like eco-friendly, environmentally friendly and green don’t appear anywhere in their guidelines.
It’s up to us as consumers to look past the labeling and make sure that the products we buy and companies we support are truly friendly toward the environment. Look for descriptions like eco-friendly, environmentally friendly, green, sustainable, ethically-made and compostable. Then take the next step by reading the label thoroughly or doing some research (if you have time) into the company and product you’re shopping for.
Eco Friendly Products
Environmentally friendly products tend to have a few things in common. They’ll usually have minimal packaging, little to no single-use plastic and natural/non-toxic ingredients.
There are a ton of environmentally friendly products on the market right now. You can find a sustainable version of almost anything you’d like. The challenge is deciding how sustainable the product is, how well it fits with your lifestyle, and if it makes sense for you money and time wise.
You can learn more about this in my post about eco-friendly products.
Eco Business Practices
Friendly vs Phony
It seems like there’s a new sustainable business popping up every day. From yoga pants to dish cloths, we have our pick of sustainable, ethically-sourced products these days. This is really great, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Sometimes these products are just out of our budget, and others they don’t perform as well as the ones we’re used to. Try to find environmentally friendly items to replace the not-so-friendly ones whenever you can. Remember, it’s all about baby steps!
Now that consumers are showing interest in being more eco-conscious, big corporations are trying to get a slice of the pie. Glad is proudly selling recycling bags and Scotch Brite has a new line of “Greener Clean” sponges. I always look at these lines with a bit of caution. First, I check to make sure the product is actually sustainable and not just a small improvement from the typical product. Next, I think about the actual company and the likelihood that they’re not big ol’ polluters themselves.
How Do We Choose?
Of course it’s better to buy an eco-conscious product from a less-than-great company than it is to just buy whatever is on sale. If this is what’s right for you at this time, you should do it and feel really good about it. For one, you’re replacing a bad item with a good one in your own home. In addition, you’re showing the companies that make these products and the stores who sell them that people want access to more sustainable options. This is huge, since most of these businesses rely on sales data to make their decisions.
If you do have the time, money and access to support more sustainable businesses, it’s a great way to help the green movement. Look for brands like Seventh Generation and Acure at your grocery store and/or check out online retailers like Mighty Nest and Grove Collaborative. When it comes to fashion, opt for sustainable brands that fit your style.
Going Green At Home
If you’re anything like me, you would like to live a more sustainable way. This can seem like a giant task at first. Where do you even begin? How do you know what choices are most sustainable? What if you depend on things that aren’t very sustainable for work or school?
The key is to start small. Make simple, easy changes that work within your current lifestyle. You don’t have to totally change everything on day one to start making a difference right away.
Read more about how to live a sustainable lifestyle here.
Eco Friendly Cars
We all know it’s better to bike, bus or take the train/subway than it is to drive. For some people, this works really well. For others, including me, this isn’t so easy. If you don’t live in an area with a great public transit system, taking the bus/train/subway is not a good option. And biking is only viable when you live fairly close to your destination.
Many of us have no choice but to rely on a vehicle for day-to-day travel. Luckily, hybrid/electric vehicles are on the rise! Thanks to consumers who were willing to invest in hybrid cars when it was inconvenient, manufacturers have gotten the message and invested in developing more environmentally friendly vehicles.
If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, give a going electric/hybrid some real consideration. There are several options on the market right now, from compact car to SUV. Most hybrid vehicles are in the same price range as comparable gas-only options. It’s also guaranteed to cut your gas bill! Depending on which vehicle you choose, you will spend up to 50% less on gas each month.