In the era of eco-consumerism, it may be challenging to decipher which products are best for the environment. People typically must decide among purchasing organic, free-range, cruelty-free, pastured or vegetarian-fed eggs at the store. What do these labels really mean?
Companies capitalize on the eco-conscious movement, marketing their products as environmentally friendly. Though some of these businesses remain true to their word, consumers need to understand the different meanings behind the labels. Only then can they make educated decisions.
What Does Green Mean?
The term “green” often appears in this day and age. Companies associate it with their products, and individuals use it to define their lifestyles. Society generally associates the term with environmental conservation.
Green signifies environmental health. If someone is going green, they are using their agency to protect the planet. The term is beneficial at its core, and companies use it to exploit consumers.
When businesses utilize eco-conscious terminology to mislead customers, they engage in greenwashing. Environmental scientists developed this term in the mid-1980s, describing the practice of overblown or unwarranted claims of sustainability for financial gains. Hair-care companies may advertise an all-natural product line, although the ingredients lack eco-conscious qualities.
Though many legitimate companies label their goods and services as green, this designation does not signify a regulated certification. The Federal Trade Commission is responsible for protecting the public from false advertising and health hazards. When it comes to environmental advertising, the agency has loose regulations.
The lack of government awareness leads many companies to make false claims about the environmental safety of their products. This causes public confusion and misinformed consumerism. Greenwashing can also cause adverse ecological and societal health effects.
The Malaysia Palm Oil Council developed an advertisement campaign painting the industry as environmentally friendly. One commercial it released discussed the benefits of palm trees, claiming they produced clean oxygen and habitats for local creatures.
Palm oil has a longstanding history of environmental degradation. Society’s high demand for vegetable oil leads farms to practice monocropping in palm production. These agricultural practices deplete soil nutrients and cause deforestation.
Rather than supporting the planet, palm oil production destroys natural habitats and oxygen-producing vegetation. Adverse environmental effects of greenwashing also impact human health, while increased destructive farming practices cause water and air pollution.
They also alter the composition of the planet. A decrease in air quality from greenhouse gas emissions may lead to worse cases of global childhood asthma. Cancer and other diseases can also result from atmospheric changes.
What Is Sustainability?
Sustainability is all about maintenance. When it comes to the planet, we hope to maintain the necessary resources for global ecological survival. Environmental sustainability meets our present needs without compromising those of future generations.
Green living focuses on environmental health, and sustainable living takes this goal up a notch. It strives to practice ecological conservation while ensuring social equality and economic vitality. Sustainability recognizes the importance and interconnectivity of these societal realms to generate feasible practices.
Leading a sustainable lifestyle requires one to view all-natural resources as finite. People can work to limit their consumption of these elements and replace what they take. Living out these practices helps maintain a safe and clean planet for generations to come.
Sustainable practices benefit individuals and the environment. Greenhouse gas reduction limits ecological degradation and improves human health. Adopting sustainable forms of residential energy enhances indoor air quality, significantly enhancing human health.
We spend 90% of our lives indoors, breathing, moving and growing. Over time, the air we consume affects the body. One may improve their health and the environment by altering the sustainability of their home.
The term “sustainable” lacks a regulatory function. Fortunately, there are many environmentally sustainable labels that consumers can trust. These certifications signify a government regulation of production practices, work environments and more.
People may recognize the black-and-white B label presented on packaging. The symbol represents the Certified B Corp. Over 3,800 companies hold this certification after passing a rigorous environmental, community, worker and customer assessment. These businesses maintain an equitable balance between profit and purpose.
The Cradle to Cradle certification also marks the sustainability of a company’s products and practices. It signifies the environmental safety of products and the generation of a circular economy. The certification evaluates material health, water stewardship, material reuse, renewable energy, carbon management and social fairness.
Most consumers are familiar with the Fair Trade Certification. The label signifies a company’s environmental stewardship, income stability, community and personal well-being, sustainable land management, empowerment and fair labor. Organization leaders update these requirements regularly to ensure maximum sustainability of certified businesses.
The USDA organic label is another recognizable symbol. It signifies that farmers harvest crops without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Companies that hold this certification must ensure no prohibited substances touched their soil for three years before application.
This certification is fundamental to the agricultural sector due to its longstanding environmentally degrading practices. Nonsustainable farmers utilize synthetic substances to meet society’s consumption demands. These pesticides and fertilizers contribute to marine ecosystem destruction.
The excess nutrients present in agricultural growth enhancers reach significant bodies of water after heavy rainfall. They stimulate the overgrowth of algae, depleting oxygen levels. When oxygen escapes these regions, it creates dead zones that are uninhabitable by aquatic life.
LEED certification marks the sustainability of buildings and construction. Products must derive from eco-friendly production centers to ensure true sustainability. Consumers can seek this certification when purchasing factory-produced goods.
Whether someone defines their lifestyle as green or sustainable, they are likely working to reduce their environmental impact and preserve the planet. Purchasing consciously crafted goods is part of it, along with independent actions.
Lowering greenhouse gas emissions can directly limit a person’s contribution to environmental degradation. When individuals drive their cars, consume beef and heat their homes, they emit air pollution into the environment. These emissions contribute to the enhanced greenhouse effect.
The greenhouse effect is the Earth’s natural process for maintaining life-sufficient temperatures. Atmospheric elements absorb the sun’s energy, convert it to heat, send it to Earth’s surface, reabsorb excess energy and release it to space. When humans emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, they interfere with this process.
Air pollutants produce heat at a higher rate than natural atmospheric elements. They also retain warmth longer, limiting the planet’s ability to send it back to space. Over time, this heat production and entrapment cause global temperature to rise.
People can limit their contribution to the enhanced greenhouse effect by engaging in alternative forms of transportation. Biking, skating and walking have a limited environmental impact, providing sustainable travel.
Utilizing renewable energy can also reduce environmental degradation while supporting a new economic realm. Solar, wind and geothermal energy use nondepletable resources to generate electricity. Relying on renewable energy leads to the conservation of finite resources.
People’s diets have a significant impact on sustainability. Beef production contributes methane into the atmosphere, accounting for one-fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing meat consumption can boost environmental protection.
Be a Product Detective
The world of eco-consumerism is constantly changing. As new eco-friendly companies and products pop up in the industry, customers must question their legitimacy. Adopting an environmentally protective lifestyle requires acting as a product detective. People must do their research before investing in green or sustainable goods and services.