How Sustainable Are Your Green Choices?

Wed, 2012-05-23 13:43

You’ve decided to do your part: buy smarter, conserve energy, and become part of the movement toward a more sustainable economy and earth. Everything from household cleaners to wines are touting their “green,” “eco-friendly,” “organic” qualities. Companies stand to profit from environmentally conscious consumers, which means we are constantly bombarded with lofty claims of earth-friendly products. But, what does it all really mean? How do you navigate those gray areas in an attempt to be more green, and make choices that matter?

Evaluate the Package

Don’t let the clean, soft, natural-looking image on the package fool you. Check the ingredients to see what it’s really made of. What is the balance between ingredients you recognize and those you can’t even pronounce? If the package doesn’t have the space to explain it’s eco-friendly claims, is there a website or phone number offered for more information?

Now that you’ve evaluated the information on the package, it’s time to think about what will happen to the package after you’ve used the product. Can you buy in bulk to avoid wasteful individual packaging? Is the material recyclable in your area?

Beware of the Vague

Use caution when choosing products advertised with vague buzzwords that do not have a standard definition: “all natural,” “green,” “eco,” “non-toxic,” and “biodegradable.” They don’t mean much on their own and are not currently regulated, making it more difficult to determine if the product is actually “green enough” to make a difference.

Look for Trustworthy Certifications

Established guidelines for products, verified by a symbol on the package, make it easier to determine what claims are reliable:

Energy Star logo    USDA Organic Logo Green Seal Certified LogoForest Stewardship Council Logo

Energy Star: The product has met strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the federal government.

USDA Organic: The Food and Drug Administration has certified that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and promote biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.

Green Seal Certified: The product, service, or company meets rigorous, science-based sustainability standards that are based on life cycle research.

Forest Stewardship Council: Ensures that forest products used are from responsibly harvested and verified sources. Standards require that forests be managed to meet social, economic, and ecological requirements.

As more products with new labels hit the marketplace, consumers have more information to filter. Individuals, as well as corporations, are seeking guidance from industry professionals to help make economically sound choices that make a difference for the environment. Homeowners are turning to energy auditors to improve energy efficiency in their homes. Corporations are in search of leaders who understand how to blend environmental responsibility and economic success.

Everblue’s training courses will help you to become a more environmentally conscious consumer, as well as a leader in the sustainability industry. Use your BPI Certification, Corporate Sustainability Training, and/or LEED Accreditation to sift through the noise of greenwash marketing and make educated purchasing decisions that will preserve the environment as we know it.

By Amy Malloy

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