Typically, environmentally-friendly products fit into one or more of several categories. Some eco-friendly products are considered green because their ingredients are safe and biodegradable. Others are wrapped in recycled or recyclable packaging, or they are themselves recyclable or reusable products. Most sustainable products are also green, but their eco-friendliness can vary depending on the materials and availability. For many customers, finding truly environmentally-friendly products takes a little research, comparison shopping, and balancing the environmental pros and cons.
Some environmentally-friendly products are considered environmentally friendly because their ingredients are safe for the environment, as well as humans and animals. Examples of these kinds of green products include cleaning supplies, cosmetics, and hygiene products. Generally, any kind of item that contains chemicals or other ingredients to which living beings and the environment will be directly exposed falls in this category.
Reading labels is a good way to find these kinds of eco-friendly products, but not all labels or advertising make entirely accurate claims. This is known as “green washing,” and it means the company makes false claims about its products’ eco-friendly properties. Fortunately, customers can look to certain nonprofit and “watch dog” organizations to find how some products rate on the eco-friendly scale.
Often, a product’s packaging will help people measure its eco-friendliness. Many environmentally-friendly products come in packaging made from recycled material, or at least material consumers can recycle. Some companies try to make their eco-friendly products as green as possible by keeping the packaging to a minimum. Recyclable products take it one step further because consumers can recycle or reuse them once they are finished using them for their original purposes. Such products might include glass jars reused as storage containers and fabrics repurposed as cleaning rags or quilt and other craft materials.
Sustainable products are examples of environmentally-friendly products made from materials that are quickly renewable and can be used again and again. Examples of such reusable products include aluminum water bottles good for avoiding plastic and clothing made from hemp or bamboo instead of cotton. Still, sustainable products are not always so sustainable in every part of the world. For example, bamboo is a sustainable material, but shipping it to parts of the world where it can not grow can add to air pollution as well as the use of nonrenewable resources like gas and oil. Consequently, some people have to find a balance between sustainable and eco-friendly, beyond just the product itself.