What do these all of these “Green” words even mean?
Sustainable, natural, organic, eco-friendly. For the longest time, I couldn’t decide which to use to define what I do. I’m all for using organic food and products, I studied sustainability in college, and I want everyone to learn how to be more eco-conscious and eco-friendly after they have read my blog posts. However, these words DO NOT all mean the same thing, even though we sometimes use them interchangeably. The main goal for many of them is to be better to ourselves and better to our planet. Knowing the differences can help you to make better decisions while being a consumer based on your eco-moral compass.
How are these words different?
A food can be grown organically, but it could have not be done so in a sustainable manner. Another example, one of my biggest pet peeves, is the overuse of the words “vegan” and “cruelty-free.” Both are absolutely great, but neither means sustainable or organic. Those terms refer to the use of animal parts and treatment of animals while making a product. When I ask someone if something is “natural” and they respond by saying it is “vegan,” I ask again, “Is it NATURAL?” Personally, I’d like both! But something that is vegan, but not natural or sustainable is not a good trade off, in my opinion.
While I have an enormous list of terms that I’d love to share, I want to keep this one short and succinct. The following terms are ones that you will hear often in the when you start exploring sustainable living. Being “green” is on trend, so understanding these words will help you to make better informed decisions regarding your eco-friendly lifestyle.
Green Lifestyle Terminology
- using a resource in a way so as not to permanently damage or deplete it
Ex: collecting rain water to use on gardens so that you don’t have to use filtered fresh water on it and
- to claim that something, most likely a product, is “green” (sustainable, eco-friendly), when it is not environmentally friendly at all.
- “It’s greenwashing when a company or organization spends more time and money claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing than actually implementing business practices that minimize environmental impact. It’s whitewashing, but with a green brush.” – via greenwashingindex.com – Visit Greenwashing Index to learn more about greenwashing, spotting it, and holding companies accountable for it.
Ex: A company adds in a plant extract to their product formula that contains toxic ingredients and then claims it is “natural.” This is greenwashing. One natural element amongst other toxic ingredients doesn’t make the product “natural.”
Stay tuned for next week’s post on Greenwashing.
- poisonous, harmful, deadly
Note: Many everyday products that we use are toxic, and there are many toxins that the FDC allows in the USA that other nations ban and prohibit.
- free of toxins and poisons. Not containing any toxic ingredients.
- food and animals that are grown and raised with out the use chemicals in their growth process
- approved by the government as having been grown without the use of artificial chemicals – source
- the payment of just and fair prices for items (such as food, crafts, flowers, and gold) that are purchased from underdeveloped countries. These countries normally experience pay that is less than a living wage. Fair Trade practices intend to eradicate that. Read more about the practice of fair trade from Fair Trade USA, World Fair Trade Organization, Fairtrade America, and Fair Trade Federation.
Read also: #WhoMadeMyClothes (Fashion Revolution)
- something that DOES NOT use or contain any animal products
- also, a person that does not consume or use animal products
Examples of NON-VEGAN foods & products (things that vegans avoid): honey, beef, animal milk, worcestershire sauce, seafood, red dyes, wool, leather, paint balls, and tattoo ink. – source
Note: Vegan is often thought of as bowls of amazingly beautiful and fresh food and makeup that has a picture of a bunny on it denoting that no bunnies were harmed in making it.
- something produced without harming anyone or anything in the process.
Note: cruelty free make-ups do not test their products on animals.
- (of food, or premises in which food is sold, cooked, or eaten) satisfying the requirements of Jewish law. – source
- the literal translation from Hebrew equates to “fit” or “appropriate” food that a Jewish person can eat – source
Note: See more kosher info at Kosher Certification.
- purchasing items that are produced ethically, meaning that in the process of making them, no one and no thing was harmed.
Note: Many unregulated factories in less advanced countries have no rules when it comes to overworking their “employees.” Thus, they work them to the bone, enslave them, treat them inhumanely, and more. Ethical consumerism involves transparent working and production practices that ensure consumers that the people who work to make their clothes at every point in production, as well as the environmental impact that the company makes, is done so in a safe and eco-friendly manner. Read more on the ethical consumerism wikipedia page.
- not consuming items that require you to create waste.
Note: While zero-waste is technically not realistically achievable, because we all create some type of waste, the movement has sparked a wave of people who drastically reduce their consumption. Some people and families can go a whole year without completely filling up their trash bin, and that is inspiring and amazing!
- consciously minimizing
- not harmful to the environment; “environmentally friendly” – source
- goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies that claim reduced, minimal, or no harm upon ecosystems or the environment. – source
Ex: solar energy sources are more eco-friendly than other energy sources because it is a renewable source instead of a finite source. Coal and gas will not last forever.
- showing concern for the environment
Ex: If you’re reading this post, you’re someone who exhibits traits of being eco-conscious
I hope these definitions and explanations help you to better understand the nuances between the many words that people and brands use to define environmentally friendly living and products. Next week (Week 2 of 2018), I’ll be covering GREENWASHING, and how many of these terms tie into it. Happy 2018, y’all! I hope it is off to a great start.
xoxo dolls & dudes,