The term ‘eco-friendly product’ is commonly used these days. Yet, strangely, many people still equate the word with crunchy granola living, hippy lifestyles, and tree-hugging enthusiasts. I am here to inform you that eco-friendly products are more mainstream than you think. Not only are they more mainstream, but they are becoming more and more common. It just isn’t what you expect it to look like, so it might not be so obvious. Before we dig into explaining what an eco-friendly product is, though, let’s talk about why it doesn’t look as you might think it should and a simple way to fix the problem.
What is the problem?
There is too much extremism in the world we live in today. Many well-meaning individuals have a great passion for the earth. They honor humankind, and they are beautiful souls. However, their methods have standards too high for the average person who also wants to do good. And since the average person cannot compete, many choose to bow out. Endeavors such as Zero-waste living and Off-grid living create unattainable standards, even undesirable for many of us. While these endeavors are beautiful and work well for many, they are simply lifestyle attributes that don’t work for the majority—most of us are familiar with a society that covets consumerism and seeks comfort at all costs.
I am here to inform you that there is a solution. There is a way to live where you can establish sustainable practices, using eco-friendly products without sacrificing your love of things or creature comforts.
So how do we fix this problem?
How do we fix it?
What I propose in our approach is to find a middle ground. A shift in perspective is how we begin to fix the problem. Most solutions to our problems already exist. We can’t see it because we expect these solutions to look a certain way. Once we open our minds to allowing any solution to come our way, our perspectives are no longer limited.
In this middle ground, you are the boss. You decide what works for YOU. No one else has permission to tell you what you do or that what you buy is right or wrong. As long as you are making a conscious effort for improvement in one area of your life, any area you choose, you are already on your way to a greener life.
What are Eco-Friendly Products?
Eco-friendly products are products made for consumers that are safe for both people and the planet. Ideally, an eco-friendly product has sustainable materials for packaging such as recycled material, compostable paper, or biodegradable cardboard.
How To Tell If Something is Eco-friendly
The easiest way to tell if something is eco-friendly is to read the ingredients list. However, a product marketed as organic, all-natural, or even eco-friendly doesn’t mean that is all there is to it. Marketing can be seductive in its creativity.
Knowing which ingredients are harmful to you and the earth is the best way to know which products are safe for you and the planet. Knowing your ingredients is essential to make sure they are suitable for you and to be assured you avoid the harsh chemicals and heavy metals that can have a long time ill effect on your body. Just remember that natural cleaning products may not be all-natural.
Are Customers Skeptical of Eco-friendly Products?
Many customers are skeptical of eco-friendly products because of the great seductress called marketing, as mentioned above. Greenwashing is a term used in the eco-friendly community to describe the act of alluding to the safety of a product for people and the planet with words like all-natural, unscented, and organic ingredients. For a more excellent, in-depth read on greenwashing, check out: Calling Out Greenwashers.
Unfortunately, very few regulations are loosely governed the listing and marketing requirements in the United States for consumer goods. Because of this, many products can be advertised as safe and still contain harmful chemicals or ingredients such as sulfates, parabens, fragrances, and phthalates. Check out our ‘No Thank You’ List to learn more about ingredients to avoid.
While green cleaning products, or even just green products, are an excellent start, you need to dig beyond the surface as a conscious consumer if you want to know what’s really in your products. So it’s no wonder why people are skeptical of eco-friendly products.
What Does it Mean to be Eco-Friendly?
You may be wondering the difference between an eco-friendly product and being eco-friendly. While eco-friendly products provide safe solutions for our daily comforts, to be eco-friendly requires a mindset. To be eco-friendly requires action, conscious choices, and ethical selections. To be eco-friendly requires one to say no to some things they know are harmful to themselves and the planet and consciously seek an alternative.
An Example of Eco-Friendly Living
A simple example is not littering but putting your empty, plastic water bottle in your bag or car instead until a proper trash receptacle is available. Another example on the same subject is to choose to recycle your plastic water bottle instead of throwing it in the garbage. And yet another one is to choose a reusable water bottle instead of a plastic bottle. All three scenarios exemplify eco-friendly, for each choice requires a mindset for the greater good, regardless of where in the journey the eco-friendly individual is.
Another attribute of being eco-friendly is to seek out not only eco-friendly products but also sustainable products. Products made with minimal carbon footprints are a great example of sustainable products. Another is goods that use little to no carbon emissions in production and manufacturing.
What Makes an Environmentally Friendly Product?
The simplest way to describe an environmentally friendly product is one made with people and the planet in mind before profit.
To be more specific, a product made to provide a need or comfort without compromising natural resources such as polluting the air we breathe or contaminating the water of the oceans and streams. These criteria prioritize the creator, designer, and manufacturer more than the money they will make on the product.
An Example of an Environmentally Friendly Product
Recycled plastics used in new products are an excellent example of an environmentally friendly product. Technology and engineering are creating some fantastic ways to reuse and repurpose the plastics of our world that would otherwise sit in a landfill from 500 years to thousands of years.
Examples of products made with recycled plastics are water bottles, clothing, even building materials. The recycled materials used in construction create a way to make new, without adding to the carbon footprint of its existence. If only we could find a way to recycle materials such as plastic to reduce carbon emissions.
On the contrary, it is vital to avoid products that produce hazardous waste in manufacturing them. On humanity, knowing who makes the products is just as important as how. Fairtrade, fair wage laws, and fair labor standards are not guaranteed.
Who Determines if a Product is Eco-Friendly?
One Man’s Journey Begins
A perfect example would be someone new to the eco-friendly journey. This friend decides to give up paper towels, plastic silverware, and plastic straws. Instead, they opt to start using reusable straws, reusable silverware, and cut-out paper towels and napkins. In addition, they pick up a few glass, food-safe containers, a reusable water bottle, and a reusable coffee mug to go the extra mile. They also purchase some microfiber cloths for an easier transition in the home.
In this person’s journey, they are making a great effort in using fewer paper towels. Micro-fiber cloths are the solution for them at this place in their journey.
Who is to argue that they are not eco-friendly? In comparison, they are using fewer trees by making this switch. Some could easily argue less environmental pollution due to his part in the need for less deforestation (I know, it would take an army, but it starts with one).
As One Man’s Journey Evolves
Now imagine a year down the road. This man has had a fantastic journey living without single-use plastic. Unfortunately, this same individual’s micro-fiber clothes are beginning to deteriorate. Paper towels are no longer an option for him, for he broke that habit many moons ago. However, he recently learned that the micro-fiber cloths are made with micro-plastics, which leach out in the washing machine (even more so in hot water washes) and spill tiny particles of micro-plastics into the wastewater. What was once a solution, is no longer viable for him to replenish.
For now, he knows better, so he chooses to do better. He’s decided to cut up a couple of old t-shirts that he had in the Goodwill back.
In my opinion, he was never wrong. His selections were incremental in being more eco-friendly. The lifestyle is a journey, and in this journey, progress trumps perfection. Progress provides forward motion, while perfection can be paralyzing.
Eco-Friendly Product Benefits
The benefits of eco-friendly products are endless. To begin with, the money you spend on eco-friendly products is an investment—an investment in a higher quality good, as well as an investment in the planet. Your cash also is invested in companies that have chosen to operate with a higher ethical standard, creating a greater sense of purpose and morale in its employees, for they are making products with a purpose, not just for a profit. In return, the products you purchase are more often of higher quality. Higher quality means it will last longer, so you have fewer trips to the landfill and save money with a product that will serve you longer.
In addition, when a product is safe for the environment, chances are it is just as safe for you. You are then equipped with products that are also safer for you. It is a win-win.
A Summary of Eco-Friendly Products Explained
In summary, eco-friendly products can easily be part of your everyday life. Moreover, sustainable products help enhance the commitment to living an eco-friendly life.
So remember the simple things that have a lasting impact. Be sure to recycle your water bottle next time you opt for plastic. Recycling water bottles are a great start. When you are ready to make a more significant impact in your eco-friendly lifestyle, pick up a couple of reusable water bottles so you always have one to grab on the go. Choosing reusable water bottles is a great way to cut down on our planet’s plastic waste. And if you like drinking through straws, get a few reusable straws to take on the go with you too. Each of these little things makes a positive impact on its own. When combined, they make a more significant positive impact on our environment.
Over time, as you slowly make one wise choice after the next, you will have a whole list of brands you can trust and more than 30 eco-friendly products that will naturally become your new go-to standards for your own eco-friendly lifestyle.