Nowadays, the term “eco-friendly” is heard nearly everywhere, from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. With all the buzz surrounding this particular term, It can be quite confusing to know what it’s true meaning is. Knowing more about the true meaning of “eco-friendly” will help you be an informed consumer and also a global citizen. 

So, what does eco-friendly mean? Eco-friendly refers to anything that is not harmful to the environment. This means preventing air, land, and water pollution which harms natural eco-systems and wildlife. Many people are adopting eco-friendly habits in order to protect the environment in addition to their health and safety.

There are many different ways to be eco-friendly in your life, some are simple while others are more complicated. Many people have adopted eco-friendly habits for a number of personal, ethical, and health benefits. 

What is being “Eco-Friendly”?

Perhaps you have heard of the term “eco-friendly” or “going green”. Today many people are aware of the damaging effects of environmental pollution, so they are now making a conscious attempt to adopt an environmentally conscious lifestyle in order to reduce their environmental impact and protect their health. This includes everything in the environment: from the sea, air, and land, to the animals, and any other living organisms that share the planet with us. 

Being eco-friendly goes beyond just an idea or concept but it carries practical implications that we can take with us into everyday life. This could be a changing a daily habit in your such as reducing your waste, using less plastic, composting, recycling, or even something simple as switching your toothbrush or using a reusable drinking straw

When you discover what your environmental impact is, you can then make decisions to improve upon it and you will start to become more aware of how your choices are affecting the environment. Part of being eco-friendly is to consume products and items that cause minimal environmental harm, as there are many eco-friendly alternatives for nearly all aspects of living. More on that later. 

Another important aspect of being eco-friendly is to spread your knowledge and support others who are committed to the same cause. Promoting sustainable and eco-friendly living will only contribute to the protection of the environment. 

How to Start Making Eco-Friendly Choices

Despite what you may be thinking, making eco-friendly choices doesn’t require a 180-degree turn in the way you live. Often times it’s much simpler than that. Here are some simple ways that people are making eco-friendly choices:

  • Practice the 3 R’s – reduce, reuse, and recycle. Reduce your overall waste output at home. Reuse materials instead of tossing them out. Opt to recycle your waste on a daily basis. 
  • Go-plastic free – ditch the plastic. Many common plastic products are now produced with eco-friendly materials.
  • Start composting – it’s nature’s way of recycling where organic waste biodegrades into the soil. An eco-friendly way to reduce your food waste. 
  • Use eco-friendly products – eco-friendly alternatives exist for nearly all facets of life, from caring for our children to the clothing brands we wear. 
  • Research eco-friendly brands – these should be ethical brands that promote sustainability within their industry.
  • Energy conservation – reduce your electricity consumption and use energy-efficient products.
  • Buy food locally – buying food from your local farmer’s market eliminates the need for packaging and transportation.
  • Eat organic – eating organic food is healthier and eliminates the need for toxic pesticides.
  • Opt for products made from eco-friendly materials – bamboo, hemp, cork, stainless steel are some eco-friendly alternatives.
  • Use products made from recycled materials – using materials from a previously recycled product prevents a new one from being produced.
  • Go zero-waste – a lifestyle with the ultimate goal of producing the lowest amount of waste as possible.
  • Reduce carbon output – walk or cycle to work, take public transport or even carpool to reduce your daily carbon footprint.
  • Choose cruelty-free products – avoid cosmetics and personal care products that test on animals or contain ingredients derived from animals. 
  • Choose non-toxic – from the cleaning products we use to the personal hygiene products we depend on, chemicals are everywhere. Look for organic and all-natural alternatives.

Be Aware of Greenwashing

In your quest for eco-friendly living, you will notice that some brands offer genuine information and official seals of approval from recognized organizations. Other brands will merely package and label their products with green colors or a symbol such as a globe or a tree to give off the impression their product contributes to a sustainable environment. They will be without any genuine proof that their products are truly eco-friendly. Be aware of this marketing tactic known as “greenwashing”. 

Many large brands will “greenwash” and perpetuate the idea of an environmentally friendly product. I’ve seen it in nearly every aisle at the supermarket. Single-use plastic bottles with a green label and leaf logo stating they produce 5% less plastic. Paper towels with a green label but excessively packaged in plastic. Now, this doesn’t mean that you should completely avoid these brands, but be very wary.  

It’s important to do some background research on specific brands and products so you can determine which has the lowest environmental impact. Look for official seals from recognized organizations such as “USDA Certified Organic” for organic food products or ”FSC” (Forest Stewardship Council) for products made from paper and wood. 

You can also look more closely at the ingredients or materials to avoid. For example, if you are interested in using an eco-friendly soap, a bit of background information on potentially harmful ingredients in soap and other bathroom products will help you within your search. 

Most truly eco-friendly manufacturers will be open about their commitment to producing an environmentally friendly product. They will clearly state which ingredients are present, where they sustainability source their ingredients, and what they are doing to give back to the environment. The more upfront and transparent the brand is, the more eco-friendly it will be. 

It’s up to You

Some of the benefits of eco-friendly living include better health, saving money, and protecting the planet for future generations to come. It also gives you purpose by striving for the greater good of the environment. 

Don’t forget that starting an eco-friendly lifestyle can be lots of fun! There are many creative ways to adopt a new eco-friendly lifestyle and the possibilities are endless. By educating yourself, you and your family can make wiser choices to reduce your environmental impact which will help create a more sustainable world we live in.