How to Shop Smarter for Green Home Products
Companies and advertisers have finally caught on to the people’s desire for green home products. In some ways, this is good as manufacturers and retailers are offering a wider variety of eco-friendly goods to accommodate this holistic way of life. In other ways, this is not so good, as advertisers attempt to appeal to these consumers with half-truths and buzz words that make products appear green when in reality, they are not. To help the average green consumer distinguish which products are eco-friendly and which ones are falsely advertised, here are a few tips on how to find and buy environmentally friendly products for their homes.
Reusable instead of biodegradable
Many products are advertised as biodegradable, yet these products do not really break down and biodegrade. To qualify as biodegradable, the item must be disposed of in an environment that exposes the product to water, light, air, enzymes and microbes. In a landfill that is overcrowded, these are not conditions available. So when shopping, instead of selecting products marked biodegradable, choose those marked as “reusable material,” as these are re-purposed instead of shipped to a landfill.
Organic or natural foods
Just because a product has a buzz word like “all-natural” printed on its wrapper doesn’t mean that it’s actually healthy. The word “natural” can be used by any company on any product without any kind of verification through a third party. The word “organic,” though, is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and any product sporting that term has been produced without any pesticides, antibiotics, bioengineering, hormones, irradiation or pesticides. If it says “organic” then it really is organic.
A common misconception is that reusable bags greatly benefit the environment, but these bags actually require a significant amount of energy to produce. Government-sponsored British research suggests that a consumer would need to use a cotton bag 171 times in order to surpass the environmental friendliness of the paper or plastic bags.
The great light bulb debate may be a little confusing, so as a rule, remember that buying newer bulbs is a bright idea. Halogen incandescents, CFL and LED bulbs are the most efficient bulbs available; they use less energy and have longer lives than older incandescent bulbs. Buying these bulbs is smart not only because their energy-saving nature saves consumers money, but also because the old bulbs are slowly being phased out and within the next few years will not even be available anymore, The Independent reports.
Certifications and seals
Like the word “natural,” the image of the Earth is not regulated, so a blue or green stamp in the shape of the planet does not guarantee that that product is green, There are, though, seals or certifications backed by standards and regulations that consumers can learn to look for.
- Certified Vegan is one such certification and any products boasting this certification promises that no animal by-products or ingredients to manufacture that product. It also assures the buyer that no animals were tested on or harmed during or after production.
- The CertiPUR-US symbol means that product has been tested for content, durability, and indoor emissions. One will usually find this branding on home furnishings items like mattresses and upholstered furniture and it signifies that the polyurethane foam in the product has been tested and meets criteria for performance and limited emissions.
Essentially, when shopping for genuinely green products for your home, there is no short cut. To be a responsible consumer, buyers must read labels, familiarize themselves with certifications and seals, and stay current on the new products that increase energy efficiency. It’s a dirty job sometimes, but going greener and cleaner is worth the effort.