It seems these days, everyone is hopping on the eco-friendly train. As terms like “eco-friendly” and “going green” become increasingly popular, we even see a shift in the way companies label and market their products.
For example, at Plant Hide, we always let our customers know the eco-friendly practices we use in the creation of our products. We handcraft our vegan leather from sustainably-gathered Teak leaves and coffee beans, which is why our shop appeals to conscious consumers.
Besides using the term “eco-friendly” to market products, it’s also a way of life. These practices consider the Earth’s health, which contributes to the planet’s longevity.
This article covers the meaning of eco-friendly, what makes a green product, why this practice is essential, and how a greener lifestyle can encourage others to do the same.
What does eco-friendly mean?
You’ve heard the term hundreds, perhaps even thousands of times. But what does eco-friendly mean?
The literal definition of eco-friendly is earth-friendly. These practices and products avoid harming the environment. In many cases, something promoting sustainability will conserve resources, such as water and energy.
Eco-friendly products may also help reverse humanity’s detrimental effects on the environment. For example, some products might prevent contributions to land, water, and air pollution. This is also sometimes referred to as ‘going green.’
As more people and companies begin to go green and focus on eco-friendly practices, it’s essential to know how to maintain eco-friendly habits and become more conscious about what you purchase. But what are some green products?
What products are eco-friendly?
Eco-friendly products might seem easy to source. But for a product to indeed be environmentally-friendly, it must avoid damaging the environment and humanity.
Minimally speaking, these products must be non-toxic. However, some other environmentally-friendly characteristics include sustainably-grown, raised, or gathered materials produced using methods that don’t damage the environment.
If the products use organic materials, they should be grown without toxic herbicides or pesticides. Some sustainable products use recycled materials, like glass, metal, plastic, or wood from waste products.
You might even find products have an eco-friendly label if they’re biodegradable. This means they’ll break down naturally, which translates to less waste in landfills and habitats long-term.
As you’re shopping, look for products sporting established, third-party emblems. Eco-friendly logos exist to ensure conscious consumers know what they’re buying. Some phone emblems exist, and these companies may make some bold claims. But if it doesn’t sound legitimate, it’s probably not.
Here’s a list of eco-friendly logos you can trust. They showcase specific green characteristics of products that are environmentally friendly:
Why is eco-friendly important?
Living an eco-friendly lifestyle is crucial for the environment. While there’s little chance that we can get everyone to go green, the more people involved, the more impactful we are as a whole.
Green practices improve the environment. For example, focusing on sustainability can decrease our exposure to pollution and toxic materials. Thus, this improves our quality of life.
The quality of life on Earth can experience an impact from eco-friendly practices too. We see differences in mortality, diseases, age, and other attributes. Those who choose to go green have a better chance of living a healthier life, as well.
While development is essential in society, we should be using innovations to ensure our practices are environmentally-friendly. Mother Nature designed everything before we began using our surroundings for our own design purposes. So it’s crucial to avoid exploiting the world’s resources as we continue to strive for a better future.
But how can we stay eco-friendly?
How do you stay eco-friendly?
Millions of tons of materials are going to waste each day. So how do you stay green in a world that’s designed to exploit and deteriorate the environment?
Becoming more eco-friendly doesn’t have to be a drag; it can be an enlightening and enjoyable experience. Here’s a list of the ways you can minimize your effect on the environment:
1. Minimize your food waste by:
- Planning your grocery shopping. Plan your meals around the food you have in your fridge. Keep in mind, eat the food that’s likely to expire sooner first.
- Avoiding overbuying food. Most of us purchase more food than we need. With this in mind, consider how often you go out to eat and days you might consume leftovers.
- Cutting and storing produce the moment you bring it home. This is a form of food preparation that will make throwing together meals easier throughout the week, encouraging you to eat what you have rather than waiting until it spoils.
- Using appropriate food storage strategies. Storing food doesn’t always require you to produce waste; find the right packaging to ensure it’s reusable and keeps your food as fresh as possible for as long as possible.
- Ignoring the expiration dates on food and beverages. You know those best-by, sell-by, and use-by dates on nearly every package? Those aren’t the dates your food and drinks will expire. Smell and taste the food before tossing it. If it tastes okay, it’s likely alright to eat. These labels’ purpose is to encourage your next purchase – and more waste. So ignore them whenever possible.
- Eating the ends and stems. Carrots, beets, apples, and other fruits and vegetables have stems and ends you can and should eat. Don’t toss them; instead, do some research on how you can use food scraps to make something tasty (we’ll create some content covering this in the future).
- Using vegetable scraps to make tasty vegetable stock. Vegetable stock is super easy to make with onion, carrot, celery, and garlic ends, and it’s incredible for adding flavor to your quinoa, couscous, rice, and other delicious meals.
- Freezing fruits and veggies. Increase the life of your fruits and vegetables by cutting and freezing them in freezer-safe reusable bags or containers.
- Baking breakfast breads and blending smoothies with slightly mushy fruits. My personal favorite is banana bread, but other fruits make incredible treats too!
- Composting leftover food. Make or purchase a composting bin to make your own fertilizer. You can then use this to feed your garden with nourishment.
2. Switch to eco-friendly transportation by:
- Driving cars and motorcycles less. These vehicles burn fossil fuels, contributing to air and water pollution.
- Riding a bicycle, scooter, roller skates, skateboards, etc. Plenty of manual options exist. If you can, choose eco-friendly transportation to avoid burning fossil fuels when it’s not necessary.
- Implementing a 30-minute rule. If the destination only requires 30 minutes of commuting via an eco-friendly form of transportation, choose the green option.
- Choosing public transportation whenever possible. Public transit is moving, regardless of whether or not you’re riding. If you need to take a longer trip, public transportation is usually one of the most eco-friendly transportation options.
- Vacationing closer to home. Intercontinental and international flights burn more fossil fuels than local travel. Choosing closer options is less wasteful.
- Packing less while traveling. By packing light, you’re lessening your carbon footprint.
- Carpooling whenever possible. If you can get a carpool going to work or school, you can share rides and lessen your emissions. This is also a great way to save on gas.
- Requesting work from home days. Working from home comes with a host of benefits, including reducing your carbon footprint. Of course, it’s always nice to work in your pajamas too.
- Choosing electric vehicles over gas-powered. Electric cars have become way more advanced than in the past. Just ask Elon Musk about his Tesla Model X. It’s quite the ride – and lightning fast!
3. Transform your living space into an eco-friendly home by:
- Building a home using hempcrete. Made from hemp and other concrete materials, hempcrete is more eco-friendly than concrete, acting as a better insulator.
- Choosing LED light bulbs. These bulbs are energy-efficient, ensuring you save on electricity and decrease your energy expenditure.
- Opting for low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucets. If you’re building your own home or have the option to upgrade your rental, choose the most efficient devices possible.
- Installing solar panels and a solar battery to capture as much energy as possible. If you don’t own your home, you can choose an electric service provider that’s more efficient or join a community solar farm to become more efficient.
- Using sealing for all windows or efficient double-pane windows. This minimizes your energy losses and maximizes your efficiency.
- Adding insulation wherever possible. This can be especially beneficial if you live in a harsh weather region (i.e., cold winters or hot summers).
- Using cold water to wash your clothes. This is more efficient than heating water to wash your clothes.
- Hanging your clothes to dry. Dryers use a lot of energy to dry clothes.
- Using a bucket in your shower to catch water as it heats. That reusable water would become waste water. Use this water to water your plants, flush your toilet, etc.
4. Go green and minimize the single-use plastic you use by:
- Choosing hemp plastic (and recycling them). While rare, hemp plastic is crafted from hemp cellulose fibers, making it a better alternative to traditional plastic. However, these can still sit in a landfill for quite some time, so it’s essential to recycle them!
- Avoiding free products. Plastic wrap usually seals free products, and they’re never made with longevity in mind. Steer clear of these problematic polluting products by choosing sustainability instead.
- Investing in a water filter. If you have a high-quality filter for your water at home, you won’t have to buy bottled drinking water. According to Health Human Life, every second, 1,000 people in the U.S. open a single-use water bottle, with 60 million plastic water bottles tossed out each day. Avoid being a part of this statistic.
- Bringing cloth bags to all stores. Wherever you go shopping, have your own reusable bags to avoid using the plastic bags they provide. This is especially important for grocery shopping.
- Steering clear of single-use coffee cups. Bring a thermos with you to hold coffee and teas.
- Bringing a reusable container to restaurants for leftovers. Single-use containers plague the restaurant industry. Become a part of the solution by bringing a reusable container.
5. Make eco-friendly choices in your bathroom by:
- Replacing traditional toilet paper with hemp toilet paper. Hemp toilet paper is an eco-friendly alternative made from hemp cellulose fiber pulp. The creation process is less toxic and hemp is a more sustainable resource than paper.
- Using a reusable safety razor. Keep the disposable plastic razors out of landfills by using a safety razor.
- Choosing refillable services for shampoo. Refillable services exist for a reason. Keep using the same bottle and refill it when the time comes.
- Avoiding overbuying bathroom products. Don’t buy another product until you finish the first one.
- Using the right amount of a product. If the suggested use is one teaspoon, don’t use a tablespoon of the product. Knowing how much you really need is half the battle.
- Slicing tubes to extract the last of the product. This ensures you never waste the product you purchase.
- Switching to reusable ear swabs. Disposables are incredibly wasteful. Choose reusable whenever possible.
- Finding beauty products with eco-friendly ingredients. These are better for the environment and your health.
- Choosing recycled toilet paper. Pair this with a bidet attachment to increase your eco-friendliness immensely.
- Switching to reusable menstrual products. Many women use menstrual cups, cloth pads, and period panties rather than disposable products. Join the green revolution.
6. Go green in your kitchen by:
- Purchasing food in bulk. This minimizes waste and allows you to portion out the food on your own.
- Avoiding disposable paper towels. One of the best options is to use reusable hemp dishcloths. But you can also make your own out of worn-out clothes rather than throwing them away.
- Using beeswax wraps instead of plastic wrap. Single-use plastic wrap is a one-and-done product. But beeswax wraps last longer and keep your leftovers free of clingy, irritating plastic.
- Purchasing a pour-over, french press, or another coffee maker. Keurig cups are wasteful and end up in landfills. Keep it green and go with another coffee option.
- Buying compostable bamboo dish scrubs. Ditch the sponges and go for cleaning tools that will degrade naturally.
- Using loose leaf tea. Many teabags are made with plastic. Buy loose leaf tea to bypass those plastic-laden teabags.
- Using real plates and flatware and cloth napkins instead of paper napkins. While single-use products make life a bit easier, they end up in landfills and pollute the environment.
- Packing lunch in a lunch box. While our moms used paper bags and plastic bags to hold our snacks and sandwiches, the waste is easily avoidable with a lunch box, thermos, etc.
7. Going green locally by:
- Shopping at your local farmers’ market. You can likely source anything right down the street.
- Gardening in your yard. Starting a small garden, even if it’s just an herb garden, can add to your sustainability.
- Participating in community-supported agriculture. You’ll receive farm-fresh groceries delivered to your home by joining a CSA.
- Supporting local small businesses. Whether you’re buying from a local farmer, tailor, woodworker, or candle maker, shop local whenever possible.
- Becoming more involved in your local community. Give back when you can by hosting a clean-up or teaching others to become more environmentally conscious.
- Shopping at local thrift shops or garage sales instead of buying new. These are great places to purchase small appliances, homewares, and more without enhancing your carbon footprint.
8. Eco-friendly eating involves:
- Eating more plants. Plants demand fewer resources and are the most sustainable food option on the planet. Not so fun fact: raising livestock generates 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
- Eating less meat. Eco-friendly consumption doesn’t have to happen all at once. Go small and work your way up to full-time. Start with meatless-Mondays and expand upon it over time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and if you plan to change your diet, doing it gradually can make the process easier.
- Eating your leftovers. If you have some rice and beans left over from last night, eat them! There’s nothing wrong with eating the same meal consecutively.
- Choosing local, in-season fruits and veggies. Pre-packaged snacks result in excessive, unnecessary waste.
- Brew your tea leaves twice. What’s better than making a cup of tea? Making two cups with the same teabag.
9. Become a conscious consumer by:
- Supporting companies with solid ethical foundations. For instance, at Plant Hide, we create eco-friendly products without any cruel animal involvement.
- Checking companies’ environmental practices. For example, we plant trees each time we sell a vegan leather product to offset our impact on the environment.
- Purchasing from companies that give a percentage of their sales to organizations supporting eco-friendly practices. Some companies give back 1% of their profits (or more) to protect the environment.
- Thinking about how your actions will impact the world you’ll leave your grandchildren. Is buying the plastic cutlery going to contribute to a better future?
- Fixing your things before replacing them. Try to get the most use out of everything you own before considering putting it in a landfill.
- Looking for ways to recycle items. Make the choice to recycle. Even if you can minimally offset what you throw away, the effort goes a long way.
What is an eco-friendly lifestyle?
Living a greener lifestyle means you’re living your life in an environmentally friendly manner. You’re consciously working towards protecting and conserving nature, focusing on polluting less as you reduce your carbon footprint.
Even though a sustainable lifestyle is ideal, it’s still crucial to handle life’s basic principles. This lifestyle demands change, and a person must be open to making these alterations. Living this sort of lifestyle requires willingness to make conscious choices and a positive attitude towards the environment and natural resources.
Being green means you recycle and conserve water. You look at how you use fuel – if at all – and work to reduce your carbon footprint by minimizing your burning of fossil fuels whenever possible. This can also involve supporting industries that are working towards protecting and conserving nature.
Here are some ways you can live a more eco-friendly lifestyle:
- Be conscious of resources. Stay aware of the resources you’re using each day. Heating and cooling your home, traveling, and how you use water can impact the environment. If you’re aware, you’ll make more environmentally friendly choices without second-guessing.
- Incorporate conservation. Knowing how you’re using natural resources allows you to conserve better than the uninformed. This can involve turning lights off when they’re not in use, using certain materials to build you home, and other environmentally friendly actions.
- Plant trees. We plant a tree with every order we receive. Why? Because these plants are essential for life. Trees produce oxygen, offer shade, and prevent soil erosion. Not to mention, many trees product the fruits we enjoy. The shade trees provide also can aid in reducing energy consumption when planted around your home.
- Use less water. Water is the essential resource all living creatures need. So it makes sense that we should be conserving water whenever possible. This also reduces the energy we need to spend filtering it. To conserve water, you can take shorter showers, recycle water, use appliances that save water, collect rainwater to water your lawn, and more.
- Avoid using harmful chemicals. While disposing of harsh chemicals like ammonia, oil, and paint, you’re polluting the air and water. These chemicals can seep into groundwater. With this in mind, practice proper disposal and avoid using these chemicals whenever possible.
- Buy recycled products. By buying recycled products, you’re giving other products a chance to be reused. Minimal packaging is also beneficial because it minimizes waste.
Living an eco-friendly lifestyle isn’t super difficult. With some simple lifestyle changes, you can lessen your carbon footprint and live a greener, happier, and healthier life.