Green Products

Demystify green products and how to tell if that is really a green product or a fake?

What is a Green Product?

Choosing to lead a sustainable lifestyle can be rewarding and beneficial to future generations, though it is not without its fair share of challenges.  With savvy marketers and the need for every product to have a competitive advantage, labeling may not always indicate that a product is truly green.  Whether the label indicates “Earth Friendly” or “Green”, some advertising will leave an eco-conscious shopper duped into buying a “fake” green product.  Green product selection often involves making trade-offs between multiple environmental impacts.  We are here to help demystify green products and arm you with the knowledge for making an informed sustainable product selection.

Green Products Defined

What is a Green ProductBefore we get started with how to identify a green product, we have to understand what the definition of a green product is.  The terms “green” or “sustainable” often refer to products, services or practices that allow for economic development while conserving for future generations.  We prefer to describe a green product as one that has less of an environmental impact or is less detrimental to human health than the traditional product equivalent.  While on the topic of defining a green product, you must realize that almost no product will ever be 100% “green,” since all product development will have some impact on the surrounding environment.  It all comes down to degrees of impact and as we discussed above, trading off between impacts.

To understand the trade-offs you should realize that there are select attributes that describe green products and services; we list them below to help you further understand what a green product truly is.  Green products are…

  • Energy efficient, durable and often have low maintenance requirements.
  • Free of Ozone depleting chemicals, toxic compounds and don’t produce toxic by-products.
  • Often made of recycled materials or content or from renewable and sustainable sources.
  • Obtained from local manufacturers or resources.
  • Biodegradable or easily reused either in part or as a whole.

Green Product Certification

When looking for green products, there are a couple of ways you can ensure you are not being duped into buying a fake, though it can be tricky.  A stroll through any supermarket will yield products labeled “earth friendly,” “eco-friendly,” “biodegradable” and many other buzzwords which will make you feel warm and fuzzy about the purchase, even though this could be false.  A good rule of thumb is to look for the certification labeling, if that is not on the product then keep on walking.  This leads us into what certification labels are available and what do they mean, which is why we have put together the list below.  This is not an all encompassing list, it will however provide you with the most common certifications and their meaning.

Energy Star LogoENERGY STAR: A labeling program for energy efficient homes, building products, electronics and appliances.  ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices.

The Green Seal logoGreen Seal:  Green Seal Certification ensures that a product meets rigorous, science-based leadership standards.  It is a lifecycle assessment based labeling program for building products, green operations and maintenance procedures.  A green seal can be found on anything from a coffee filter to a hotel.

Forest Stewardship Council logoForest Stewardship Council: A certification program for wood products that come from forests that are managed in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economical viable way.  They are a non-profit organization, not affiliated with the government, working to promote responsible management of the world’s forests since 1993.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design LogoLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED):  The LEED certification was created by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2000, it in an internationally recognized standard for green building and design.  The rating system works off 5 categories and is associated to both business and residential buildings.  LEED focuses on whole building sustainability which can be used by diverse professionals and government agencies.  You could look for the LEED seals when looking to purchase green homes or office buildings, as an example.

USDA Organic Certification LogoUSDA Organic Product: When looking to go green at the dinner table many will look for certified organic foods.  The United States Department of Agriculture has implemented the National Organic Program, which will indicate whether an agricultural product was produced in such a way that integrates biological, cultural and mechanical processes to conserve biodiversity and foster cycling of natural resources.  In general this means synthetic fertilizer, irradiation or genetic engineering practices will not be used.

Green products are now mainstream, whether you are looking for a new home, automobile or even just some vegetables for a salad, there is a green product alternative available.  It is up to you to weigh your options and identify what attributes of a green product is important to you; though make sure you are fully informed and aware prior to making the purchase.  We applaud your commitment to sustainable living and look forward to building a greener future.

Comments (7)
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    Timothy Davis Jul 14 2018 - 6:47 PM Reply

    Great work, I think its up to the companies to be green and sustainable but this will only come with a change in mind set from profit maximisation to stakeholder theory. Ultimately it lies at the customers feet to ask where and how the product is manufactured.

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    Rajalakshmi.V. S Aug 16 2018 - 9:37 AM Reply

    Great job. I just loved your emphasis on providing eco-friendly, go-green products or services. As Gandhiji rightly says,”Customers are the kings of a market”‘it is highly responsible for organisations to follow above ethics and sustain too in the market.

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    Gabriella Hong Aug 27 2018 - 1:27 PM Reply

    @Matthew Speer – Thank you for this article, it’s very well written. I also think we can add “owning less and increasing flow” -> moving us closer to shared economies. For example, encouraging tech innovations such as uber, air-bnb, with our laws adapting to meet insurance/liability needs. As well as examining our lifestyles and motivations, by really considering value. What’s important to our daily lives? Not only in numbers and figures, but the true benefit it delivers to users. Rate a company’s worth by not examining that amount of demand it is generating, but how much is it serving the population, in a meaningful, helpful, and conscious way. How can we measure this? The stamps are helpful, but only if the consumer agrees with the validation process. I can choose to trust a label without asking questions, but without truly knowing, I am not in a position to fully comply.

    There certainly isn’t a simple answer to this wicked problem.

    @ Timothy Davis – Greed drives capitalistic economies. People are programmed to want more control, power, and greater access to resources. Even being more mindful of stakeholders, if greed remain to be our ultimate drive, I don’t think anything will change. I agree we need a shift in mindset, a paradigm shift. Where we see value in a different way. If we value – long term thinking in our decisions making process. If we value the big picture beyond personal gain, then we might make a incredible leap forwards into understanding how to build businesses and raise families while being more planet-conscious. If people were able to see that real value is ultimately the amount of trust you have for those around you, we might be able to create a world that doesn’t even involve money, everything can be written up in promissory notes.

    @ Rajalakshmi.V. S – Consumer’s choice, but producer’s call. There is definitely a symbiotic relationship there. Is there a way to promote ethical markets? Boosting social and environmental well-being?

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    Shayla Cademis Jul 22 2019 - 1:19 PM Reply

    Thanks for the suggestion to keep in mind that almost no product can be 100% green. My husband and I are trying to be more mindful of the products we purchase and the effects their manufacturing has/had on the environment. Especially in terms of clothing and bags, we want to be sure what we buy is responsibly made. Hopefully we can find great products as we become more mindful of these things!

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    Abdul-Salam Abdul-Latif Sep 19 2019 - 6:18 AM Reply

    Thank you very much, I really enjoyed the lesson.
    keep it up!!!

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