As the conversation around climate change continues to accelerate amongst the public and media, there has been a significant uptick in the interest in eco-friendly products. These products belong to a wide range of use-cases and are touted as environmentally responsible initiatives. These products widely impact the way our climate conversation has developed and is also a powerful tool we can use to reduce our personal carbon footprint.
In our daily life, we use products that range from light bulbs to toothpaste that add to our carbon footprint due to the manufacturing, utilisation, and disposal processes. Many of these products can cause environmental harm due to harmful chemicals like SLS. Other products in our daily life that can lead to subtle environmental harm include the type of food we eat or the type of appliances we use.
It is impossible to remove our carbon footprint on the planet. However, it is essential to limit it as much as possible. We can do this by understanding and using eco-friendly products.
It is important to note that there is no one authority to rate or rank these eco-friendly products. Some might be more environmentally conscious than others and you shouldn’t just pick a product that is labelled as eco-friendly or sustainable.
There are multiple factors that you must consider before deciding if the product fits your concerns about leaving a smaller footprint on the environment.
What makes a product eco-friendly?
While choosing to switch to an eco-friendly product, you must be aware of the factors that allow the product to be defined as sustainable. Asking the right questions and doing a bit of research will allow you to get a bigger picture.
1. Raw materials
A product is more than just what it offers. You have to take a look at the raw materials used to make the product and if the extraction process of these materials is environmentally friendly. Any product that uses petroleum-based raw materials is harmful to the environment simply as a result of how petroleum is extracted. It is crucial that you question the raw materials and ingredients used to make the product to establish if the product is actually eco-friendly.
2. Carbon footprint
There are several steps involved in making any product. These individual steps can also contribute to overall environmental degradation. Some products might be produced in factories that use fossil fuels. Other products require some ingredients to be shipped from distant places. All these factors add up to the carbon footprint of the product.
3. Ethical sourcing
A factor that is commonly overlooked is how the product is made and where the raw material comes from. Many cases of eco-friendly products have been exposed for using labor that is exploited. Other products use raw materials that infringe upon the rights of the local people. For example, the vast majority of denim is produced by using cheap labor. It also needs many gallons of water. The local community is deprived of this essential resource.
Most environmental groups suggest that consumers need to be more vigilant when choosing any product that claims to be eco-friendly. Many brands try to use this label as a marketing tactic while following some if any, guidelines for ethical production.
That being said, there are some products that have proven to be eco-friendly by being transparent about their production process.
The best eco-friendly products
Here is a list of some of the best eco-friendly products, alternatives, and practices to help save the environment.
1. Slow fashion
One of the largest contributors to environmental degradation and carbon emissions is the clothing industry. Most large fashion companies outsource the production of clothes to countries where labor laws are not robust or strictly enforced. This allows them to employ workers with minimal pay in conditions that can be very dangerous. Big fashion companies also use non-biodegradable materials like polyester to drastically reduce the prices of their products.
Shifting to slow fashion can be an effective way to curb the effects of big fashion companies like Zara and H&M. slow fashion refers to clothing made from locally available, biodegradable materials like cotton, jute, and other natural fibers. The workers are also paid fairly and are given benefits. However, these practices result in more expensive products.
2. Reusable non-plastics
We have gotten used to the proliferation of cheap plastic items for a range of uses. From kitchen storage boxes to shelves to furniture, plastics have permeated almost all spheres of consumer life. However, there has been a recent surge in products that do not use plastic so that they are more durable. Even if these products must be thrown away, they can be reused or recycled to make other products.
Switching to steel or metal containers or buying bamboo versions of these products can help make a big impact on how garbage is disposed of. Most plastics are not recyclable and they also leach harmful toxins into the environment.
3. Natural cleaning products
One of the biggest contributors to water pollution is chemical cleaning products. These products end up in local water bodies and adversely affect the ecosystem. Many new brands are now addressing this issue of toxic cleaning products by releasing environmentally friendly, natural products that either degrade quickly or do not cause harm.
Apart from the cleaning products used for cleaning your home and those used for washing clothes, natural products in self-care are also very popular. Shampoos, soaps, toothpaste, and moisturisers that are natural can improve the quality of grey-water which can then be reused for a wide range of applications.
4. Efficient electronics
The extensive list of electronics we use daily consume vast amounts of energy. Investing in energy-efficient appliances that reduce the amount of energy consumed can not only reduce the demand for energy but also help reduce your electric bills.
Smart LED bulbs consume a fraction of the energy used by traditional lights as do appliances with a high energy rating. Simple and regular servicing of your appliances can ensure that no energy ‘leaks’ into the environment.
There are a number of products within these categories of eco-friendly options. Choosing the right products and using them correctly can go a long way in protecting the environment.
The environment is crucial to our survival. An environmental disaster is just as devastating as a war or human-made catastrophe. A safe environment also houses a bounty of food, resources, and medicine that is needed for daily life. This is why we need to be eco-conscious about the products we use regularly.
Understanding the source of the materials and the products themselves, learning about different ingredients and their effects on the environment, and keeping a conscious eye on the quantities and type of material we use are crucial towards helping the environment.
There are many eco-friendly products available today. As companies and brands wake up to the dire need for sustainable products and consumers continue to demand the same, these products will become more widely accepted. In the end, the basic premise of reducing our overall consumption is key to the fight to protect the environment.
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