What is Eco-Friendly | Eco-Friendly Meaning: Definition, Practices, and More
These days, more and more individuals develop a growing interest about what’s going on in our environment. As a result, we end up seeing the term “eco-friendly” almost everywhere. Whether it’s what we eat or what we bathe with, this label seems to be everywhere.
But what exactly is eco-friendly meaning? What does it encompass? Is there a standard observed? These are just some of the questions that seem to keep us intrigued.
In this article, we’ll give you an in-depth discussion about what Does Eco-Friendly Mean, and how to tell whether a product complies with it or not. We’ve also added tips on how we can practice being more environmentally friendly in our little ways. Read on to know more about it.
To put it simply, eco-friendly is the term adopted to refer to something safe for the environment.
If we dissect this term even further, we will have the words “eco” and “friendly”. “Eco” refers to the relationship between living things and the environment, while “friendly” in this context refers to being adapted for or not harmful to something. Thus, an eco-friendly product is something that’s beneficial for the environment and its living beings.
What’s The Difference Between ‘Eco-Friendly’, ‘Green’, And ‘Sustainable’?
Another way to learn how to be more eco-friendly is to understand the difference between “eco-friendly”, “green”, and “sustainable”. From marketers to consumers, all use these three terms interchangeably. But there are some differences that are important to be mentioned.
Eco-friendly denotes something that doesn’t have any harmful impact on the earth. By making any eco-friendly changes, we can lead to healthier living for the planet and its inhabitants.
It also refers to the products or practices that tell you how to conserve energy and how to have zero waste at home or at outside. The products with eco-friendly attributes include sustainably raised ingredients that will not deplete the ecosystem.
So, we have to be cautious about selecting the products as, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), pollution causes 4.2 million deaths per year.
Green is actually a multifaceted term that is used for anything related to eco-consciousness. In today’s world, we have used the word ‘Green’ so many times that it has lost its specific meaning. Now, green refers to the things that can actually have a positive impact on the environment.
And ‘sustainable’ or ‘sustainability is another term that defines the practice of ensuring a prospering economy for future generations without depleting the natural resources. Sustainability focuses on the future. According to this – when you are producing any item, it should not create any pollution or finish many resources that will have a bad impact in the long run.
The environmental experts like to use the term ‘sustainable’ instead of ‘eco-friendly’. The reason is – while producing the products, there will definitely be some steps that will harm nature. So, it doesn’t go with the eco-friendly definition. While we are talking about ‘sustainability, we are accepting that there will not necessarily be good everything of the product. And the production will not harm nature eventually.
So, if we want to shop sustainably and want to have a zero-waste lifestyle, we need to –
- Think before you buy. The manufacturing of a product requires a lot of resources and energy. So, the less you buy, the less the impact on the environment.
- Go for reusable products.
- The products from your home garden are free of preservatives and chemicals. So, go for sustainable gardening at home for the betterment of the environment.
- The products that we use for cleaning have harmful chemicals. Try green cleaning products like Bon Ami Powder Cleanser, or R Watkins Toilet cleaner, or others. Green cleaning products leave only a tiny harmful footprint on the environment than the traditional cleaning products.
Since these words like eco-friendly lifestyle, green living, or sustainable life are the buzz words in commercials or talk shows, or products manual, we have to have a clear concept about these.
To have a sustainable community for a long time, there are three important concepts known as the three E’s. And they are – Economy, Ecology, and Equity. And these three E’s provide a framework to the people about how the choices they make today affect tomorrow.
Now that we have defined the term “eco-friendly,” let’s now dig deeper and understand what it means to be eco-friendly.
From a basic standpoint, a product has to be two things: good for the environment, and safe for humans and other living beings. But how can you tell when the product is compliant? Is there an organization that oversees these products?
That’s where the International Organisation for Standardisation steps in.
The International Organization for Standardization or ISO has set standards to help us determine and understand environmental levels. according to the IO, there are three types of labeling. We’ll discuss each of them briefly below.
The Type I environmental labeling scheme refers to the compliance to a rigid set of requirements to ensure the environment-friendly quality of a product. Once the compliance is verified, the agency awards the manufacturer with a mark or label that he can display on the product.
This mark, otherwise known as an ecolabel, will instantly inform consumers of the product’s eco-friendly quality. The consumer doesn’t have to go through a rigid verification process – the mark itself is proof of compliance.
Also, it must be noted that various organizations are responsible for awarding these ecolabels globally. But, they must first be accredited by the ISO to issue such labels.
The second type of labeling is what’s called the self-declared environmental claims. This can only happen when no Type I labeling scheme is available.
Under this standard, the manufacturer, marketer, or reseller claims that the product is eco-friendly. But to prevent abuse and unfair trade, they have to comply with a strict set of requirements before they can be allowed to claim compliance.
And finally, we have the Type III declarations. This type involves declarations that reflect the products’ environmentally compliant information. It usually contains information about a product’s life cycle, making it easier to make comparisons. In other words, think of it as a nutritional label – but for eco-friendly products.
Now that we have a deeper understanding of how these ecolabels come into existence, we can now make wiser choices with our purchases.
But in some instances, companies tend to claim that they’re environmentally compliant as a marketing strategy. With the shift towards eco-friendly buying choices, it’s easy to see why they’re tempted to do so. This is a practice that’s frowned upon and infamously dubbed as greenwashing.
Fortunately, there’s a way to check the authenticity of the company’s eco-friendly claim.
As previously stated, the easiest way is to look for the ecolabel issued by the ISO-accredited agency. If a company is selling a product as eco-friendly but lacks the ecolabel, then that may be a clear case of greenwashing.
The agencies offering environmental labeling programs differ from place to place. As an example, if you live in the United States, look for the ecolabel from the United States Environmental Protection Agency or the EPA. Thus, make sure to check which agency has jurisdiction over your area.
In the alternative, look for compliance with the Type II labeling. If the company fails to prove compliance with the ISO Type II compliance, then that’s also a clear sign of greenwashing.
And as much as possible, we shouldn’t support such misleading practices.
In Practice: Ways to Care for Our Natural Resources
Aside from supporting eco-friendly brands, we can also be more kind to the environment by making simple changes to our lifestyle. For your reference, here are some ways, tricks, and ideas to help us become more eco-friendly within our home and community.
Expand Your Knowledge
- You can start by doing your research to learn more about environmentally friendly practices. Make an effort to take this new lifestyle to heart.
- Raise your awareness on the limited amount of water that’s safe for human consumption. You may think that there’s plenty to go around, especially since around 71% of the Earth’s surface is made of water. Unfortunately, only around 3% of that is freshwater – and even a tinier portion of that is safe for human consumption. That makes you realize how valuable this finite resource is.
- Join different community programs and environmental groups that share information about our environment – and how to care for it.
- Visit the library or online resources like websites or blogs that cater to saving the environment. Try to study the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and what we can do to reduce and counter its effects in our little ways.
- Learn about recycling to help you make conscious shopping choices. For example, aluminum is one of the most highly recyclable materials, so it’s best to opt for that material if it’s among the choices. Also, familiarize yourself with the different types of plastics and identify the ones that can be recycled and the ones that end up in landfills.
- Read about the greenhouse gases and its effects on climate change.
- Research on what sustainability is and how it can positively impact our environment. Living a sustainable lifestyle can help us stretch our natural resources for our kids until the seventh generation and beyond.
Water Conservation Practices
- Reuse water when you can. This includes catching water you washed your fruits in and use it to water your garden or lawn. Alternatively, you can use dirty collected water to flush the toilet with.
- Rain can also be considered as reusable water. You can catch the rain and collect it in a heavy-duty plastic container, and then reuse it to water the plants or to clean your car.
- Another method we recommend is to consciously take shorter showers. Similarly, opt for taking a shower instead of a using the bathtub.
- Develop the habit of closing the faucet when you don’t need water. Unconscious water usage – like when we let the water run as we brush our teeth – can lead to gallons of wasted water in a month. That much wastage will only hurt our already-limited sources of water.
- When doing the laundry, wash your clothes only when the washing machine is already at its full capacity. By doing so, you make the most of the water used in cleaning the clothes. Not to mention, that also saves us energy and money in the long run.
- A similar trick is to wash plates and dishes only when the dishwasher reaches its full load.
- Switch to a showerhead that sprays out less water.
- If you’re planning on renovating your home, make sure to switch to water-saving fixtures in the kitchen and in the bathroom.
- Regularly check for leaks in your pipes or faucets. This way, you’ll be sure to make the most of your water supply. Plus, your wallet will be happy once the water bill arrives.
Reduce CO2 Emissions
- Start by taking public transportation. When we’re driving gas-powered engines, we also release carbon dioxide into the air. Unfortunately, this carbon footprint are not good for the environment and our lungs.
So, if it’s not completely necessary to drive your car, try to avoid driving it. This simple gesture will make a big impact on the environment. It will also help you save money on fuel costs.
- Alternatively, carpool with your friends. When you share a ride with officemates or classmates, that’s already enough to make a difference.
- If you’re only traveling short distances, you might want to consider riding a bike instead. It also doubles as a workout, so it’s really a win-win situation for you and the planet.
- If you have the extra money, we recommend switching to a newer vehicle that’s engineered with improved fuel efficiency.
- Make sure to list down all your errands before leaving the house. This keeps you from heading out and driving multiple times when you can get all of them in one drive.
- Start planting trees. There are local activities that encourage constituents to plant trees on public areas like parks, forests, and nature reserves. If you own a tract of land, you can also opt to plant trees and other flora to produce more oxygen and reduce CO2 emissions.
- As much as possible, do away with gas-powered tools. Most brands now carry environment-friendly electric tools that are as efficient – but without producing toxic gases into the air.
- Avoid taking flights, if it’s possible. Airplanes emit high levels of carbon dioxide into the air per flight, so we advise against taking it when you can also travel by car or by train.
- But if you must go on trips around the world, choose to pack light. The heavier the plane’s load is, the more CO2 it releases into the atmosphere.
Practice at Home
- Start by conserving energy. You can easily do so by turning appliances off when they’re not in use. You may not notice a big difference, but Mother Earth will surely thank you for this simple gesture.
You see, producing electricity requires the consumption of our natural resources. Also, power plants emit harmful fumes into the air during the production process. So, the more power you consume, the more fumes are released into the environment – and you don’t want that to happen.
Besides, conserving energy will also save you a lot of money once your energy bill arrives.
- Layer on clothes instead of turning on the heating unit. This is especially helpful when the temperatures have only started to dip. This way, you only turn it on when the cold becomes unbearable.
- Instead of using the dryer, make the most of the sun’s natural heat to dry off your clothes. A handy clothesline will help you do the trick.
- Make the most of natural lighting.
- Switch to energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs.
- During the summer, you can use blinds and curtains to keep the heat out and lower the temperature.
- Unsubscribe to traditional newsletters and switch to online mailing lists instead.
- Similarly, contact your utility provider and opt to receive bills and notices via email instead. That will help you get rid of unnecessary spam or junk mail – which is a wasteful use of paper.
- Speaking of paper, it’s best to opt for washable cloth instead of disposable paper towels and napkins.
- Don’t leave your pets behind in this shift towards an eco-friendly lifestyle. Replace your pet’s disposable plastic waste bags with biodegradable ones. Also, go for sustainably produced pet accessories such as beds and food bowls.
- Practice proper waste segregation. In doing so, you can easily identify which ones can still be recycled, which ones can be used as natural fertilizers, and which ones should be thrown away. This allows us to limit what goes into the landfill. Make sure garbage cans are properly labeled to make things easier for everyone.
- Create your own compost pile at home. This is a great way to teach your children about composting and its many benefits.
Observe the Same Practices at School or Work
- Prepare your own meals and pack your lunch in sustainably produced lunch boxes. Using reusable utensils instead of plastic ones will not only help you save money – you’re also saving the environment in the process.
- If you can, report water leaks and similar concerns to your job superiors or school administrators.
- Bring your own water bottle and refill it at the drinking fountain. By collecting the water in your bottle, you’re also reducing the amount of water waste that go to the sewers for treatment.
- Grow your own produce. Even if you don’t have your own garden, you can grow small herbs in your kitchen. With this, you can be confident that you’re eating fresh food that’s free from chemicals. It’s also the healthier alternative.
- Make sustainable food choices, like opting for fruits and vegetables that are in season. This also means choosing livestock that were grown in your local area.
- Cut down your beef and pork consumption. Meat farms tend to produce the highest amount of CO2 within the livestock sector. That will really make you think twice about your meat consumption. Besides, it will be best for your health, anyway.
- If you can, switch to being a vegetarian. If you can’t give up meat and meat products, then we recommend adding more plant-based items into your diet instead. That’s also a great way to reduce your meat consumption.
- Before heading to the grocery store, make a list of all the items you need and stick to it. Not only will this save you a second trip, but it will also prevent any food waste that you bought impulsively. Also, make sure to bring your own reusable grocery bag.
- We recommend preparing your own food. By doing so, you can pick out and purchase organic foods that are sustainably farmed, free of chemicals, and great for your body.
- But if you must eat out, choose a restaurant that’s known to source their food from local sources. Also, ask the attendant about which items on the menu are fresh for the day.
- While preparing food, identify which ones are compostable and which ones should be thrown away. This will help reduce the amount of waste that goes directly to the landfills, while the compost can serve as a natural fertilizer for your plants and produce.
- Say no to single-use plastics like disposable plasticware, plastic straws, disposable water bottles, and similar items.
- Switch to shampoo and conditioner bars to reduce the amount of plastic containers you throw out. Similarly, choose a soap that comes in sustainable packaging.
- Say no to bottles water and buy a reusable water bottle or tumbler instead.
- A canvas bag is a great replacement for single-use plastic bags. Always have one in your bag – you never know when the sudden urge to go shopping will hit you.
- When out shopping for clothes, try to browse through your local thrift store first. You’ll be surprised by all the affordably and stylish finds – who said fashion has to be expensive?
- We recommend swapping plastic toiletries and personal effects with those made with sustainable materials. Examples include a toothbrush made of bamboo, wooden razors, biodegradable dental floss, and similar items.
- Swap single-use cotton pads with reusable ones.
- For those who love makeup and skincare, pick the beauty brands that support sustainability and eco-friendly practices.
- Similarly, be familiar with the businesses that use processes and methods that help reduce their environmental impact. And as much as possible, support these businesses.
- Pick a time when to switch off computers and other electronics. Turning these items off momentarily will help save energy while also protecting your eyes from the harmful blue light.
Upcycle and Recycle
- Upcycling refers to the practice of breathing new life into an object that was once rendered useless without altering its current state. An example is to turn an old wood pallet into a coffee table. Unlike recycling, you don’t have to destroy the whole thing to create something new – making it much easier to do at home.
- Upcycle an old food jar into a pen holder.
- Old cans can be used as a pot for small plants and herbs.
- Another fun DIY project is to turn old sweaters into a snug blanket. You can also sew them into comforters or bed sheets
- Learn how to properly prepare items for recycling, and identify recycling facilities in your area.
- Subscribe to online magazines that teach us to be more aware about what’s going on in the environment and the world around us.
- Opting for e-books will not only save you money, but it will also reduce paper waste in the long run. But, make sure that the device you’re reading on won’t emit harmful blue light.
- Another tip we can share with you is to teach kids to be more environmentally conscious. This will help them develop a sense of responsibility towards caring for the environment.
- If you can, you should also start sharing your eco-friendly lifestyle with family and friends. This will be a great way to encourage them to follow suit.
- Observe Earth Day with the rest of the world. During this special day, hundreds of thousands of global participants switch all their lights off for an hour to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This concerted human activity will surely improve air quality over time.
In other countries, Earth Day is celebrated every year, while others celebrate it every month. Can you imagine how great the impact will be if everyone was in on it?
- Try to be aware of environmental laws passed in your country and disseminate information to your followers as much as you can.
- Join a movement that aims to protect forests and animals living within them. This will help maintain a balanced ecosystem – which is crucial to our survival as a whole.
- Most importantly, make sure to take all these tips and tricks to heart. This will help you develop environment friendly habits that’s sure to make a huge impact to the world.
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