Want to know what “Green” really means?

Look here for way too much information.

Recycled vs. Recyclable

Products labeled recycled are made from materials that have been used and reprocessed into something else. The materials in recyclable products are able to be recycled, if the user disposes of them in a recycling facility. They can, but may not necessarily, be used to make a recycled product. There is nothing inherently environmentally friendly about a recyclable product.

Bamboo

Bamboo fabric is a natural textile that is light and strong, has excellent wicking properties and is naturally antibacterial. Bamboo fiber resembles cotton in its unspun form, a puffball of light, airy fibers. Extensive bleaching is needed to turn the fiber white, but companies producing organic fabric leave it unbleached. Bamboo fabric is favored by companies looking for sustainable textiles because the plant grows quickly and generally doesn’t require pesticides or herbicides. The fabric also has insulating properties to keep the wearer cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

Jute

Jute is a completely biodegradable fiber. Though it’s found most in materials such as burlap, innovations with jute have made it possible to use it to construct a silk-like material. Jute is abundant in Southeast Asia and inexpensive to produce.

Biodegradable

A product deemed biodegradable can, under suitable conditions, break down into its natural parts and disappear without any harm to the environment – imagine a banana peel. Some biodegradable products take years to fully decompose.

Bioplastics

Plastics derived from renewable, biological sources, including vegetable oil and corn, rather than petroleum. All bio- and petroleum-based plastics are technically biodegradable under the right conditions, and some petrochemical-based plastics may be added to bioplastics to improve performance. Most bioplastics only degrade in strict commercial composting.

Compostable

Similar to biodegradable, compostable products can be disposed of in nature. Composting is the act of – either small-scale organically or in a large, industrial system – helping organic matters decompose. Compost can then be used in landscaping and agriculture as a fertilizer. Commercially compostable products have to decompose within a certain time frame, usually a few weeks – much more quickly than compostable and biodegradable products – under tightly controlled conditions.

Energy Efficiency

The most efficient products require the least energy to generate the most output. For example, compact fluorescent light bulbs use far less energy than typical incandescent lights while producing the same brightness; therefore, they are more energy efficient. Engineers compute energy efficiency using a ratio, written as a decimal between 0 and 1. The closer a method’s ratio is to 1, the more efficient it is.

LED Light Bulbs

Though slightly more expensive than fluorescent or halogen bulbs, LED lights have a much higher energy-efficiency ratio. The electric bill savings more than makes up for their higher sticker prices. Additionally, if every house and business in the United States switched a handful of light bulbs to LED lights, several fossil-fuel burning power plants could be closed.

Fair Trade

A model of international trade and a social movement that supports paying a fair price and upholding social and environmental standards, particularly relating to exports from developing and Third World countries.

Latex Balloons

Though one balloon can take up to six months to break down, the latex is biodegradable and innocuous to the environment. When balloons land in water, they can be dangerous to turtles and other water-dwellers, so many environmentalists oppose large, organized balloon releases.

Organic Cotton

Grown without pesticides and from plants that are not genetically modified, organic cotton is popular among fair-traders and agricultural purists. Organic farming requires crop rotation to reduce pests and maintain soil nutrients. This, in combination with lower abundance due to no genetic modifications, makes it more expensive to produce. It can cost the end user 20 to 50 percent more.

PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

This material is the recyclable part of plastic soda and water bottles. It has been used in the past to make everything from clothes and carpet to more bottles.

Pre-Consumer or Post-Industrial vs. Post-Consumer

During any manufacturing process, some materials are inevitably scrapped. Instead of throwing these scraps away, some companies use them for other purposes. These are pre-consumer recycled materials. Post-consumer recycled materials come from items that have been used and then recycled.

Recycled Leather

Products made from this material are surprisingly controversial. Intuitively, making products from already-used leather lessens the need to slaughter animals for more. Hard-line opponents of leather, however, say the popularity of the recycled material will only increase overall demand for leather and will lead to more unethical treatment of animals.

Soy Candles

Candles are commonly made with paraffin, a petroleum-based hydrocarbon. This type of candle releases pollutants into the air when burned and only adds to the world’s petroleum dependency. Candles made from soy wax or vegetable oil pose a much cleaner-burning alternative.

Synthetic Polarfleece

Though the craze may have died down, fleece jackets are still cozy and popular. This light and soft wool-alternative is made from spun polyester and can be produced entirely from recycled plastic soda bottles.

Sources: Co-op America, Wikipedia, CNN Money, wise GEEK.com, “God Save The Planet” by J. Matthew Sleeth

 

bor-recycled Recycled – having been used before and then processed so that it can form a new product.Recycling – when paper, glass, plastic etc. is put through a process so that it can be used again.
bor-non-polluting NON-Polluting – intentionally taking steps to avoid making an area or substance, usually air, water or earth, dirty or harmful to people, animals and plants, especially by adding harmful chemicals.
bor-ethical Ethical – adhering to ethical and moral principles (eg ‘It seems ethical and right’). Conforming to accepted standards of social or professional behaviour.
bor-sustainable Sustainable – able to continue over a period of time: Causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time.
bor-biodegradable Biodegradable – able to decay naturally and harmlessly: Biodegradable products and packaging helps to limit the amount of harmful chemicals released into the atmosphere.
bor-organic Organic – not using artificial chemicals in the growing of plants and animals for food and other products.
bor-fair-trade Fair Trade – Trade carried on under a fair-trade agreement. A way of buying and selling products that makes certain that the original producer receives a fair price.
Bringing together recycled, biodegradable, organic and sustainable materials, fair trade and ethically produced products and non polluting technology is saving the environment in many ways. Fewer raw materials are being mined, less waste or discarded material is going to land fill and fewer workers are being exploited.The changes you make to your buying patterns may seem small but cumulatively the changes each of us implement will make a huge difference.