Note from Michael: the following information was provided by Naina Vaish, Evangelist N CEO of Green N Brown. Attention green businesses, do you have a special coupon or discount offer you’d like showcased on Green Living Tips? Learn more here.
Talk about going Green and you will see thousands of products that promise to change your lifestyle to be more earth friendly. Purchase decisions under such circumstances can be quite overwhelming – especially when it is difficult for one to substantiate the ‘Green’ claims. Additionally, there is seldom a way for consumers to quantify their eco impact by choosing to buy these Green products versus the conventional ones.
At Green N Brown, we decided to address this challenge and go a step further by investing in the development of a simulation model that quantifies each product for its eco impact. For example, in the web-store, we tell you that when you buy the ‘Eco Shoppers Bag’ you will help save 1 million sea birds which die of eating or being strangled in plastic every year; or – more than 1,000 trees will be saved if 1% Americans buy the ‘Akbar-Wall-Hanging’ instead of the conventional one.
This is not only a great tool to understand the environmental footprint of individual products it is also a rich and interesting information source to help make purchase decisions.
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Evaluating Eco Friendliness
Ideally one must review quantified life-cycle environmental impacts of each product and have their individual impacts weighted, however, such data is not available today. The complexity further increases since there are no common attributes that cut across all product categories and very often, one ends up comparing apples to oranges, for example, comparing the resource-extraction impacts of one product with the manufacturing impacts of another, and the consumption impacts of a third.
Broadly, we believe products that fall under one or more of 4 broad categories below can be safely considered ‘Green’:
1. Products Made with Recycled or Agricultural Waste Content
1.1. Salvaged products — whenever a product can be reused instead of producing a new one from raw materials resource use and energy are saved. A good example is the products made from flip flops that are often littered on sea shores. An artisan group in Kenya decided to make beautiful home décor items out of these salvaged products.
1.2. Products with recycled content — Recycled content (especially post consumer) is an important attribute and qualifying criteria for Green. We have several products that are made from recycled content such as candy wrapper foils, to telephone wires, oil drums and recycled metal.
1.3. Products made from agricultural waste material — A number of products are derived from agricultural waste products. Most of these are made from plant fiber or wood.
2. Products That Conserve Natural Resources
2.1. Products with exceptional durability or low maintenance requirements — These products are environmentally appealing because they need to be replaced less frequently, or they need low or no maintenance. Included in this category are such products as soy candles that have very long burning hours reducing the need to use more (number of) ordinary candles.
2.2. Rapidly renewable products — Rapidly renewable materials are distinguished by the shorter harvest rotation—typically 10 years or less. They are biodegradable, often (but not always) low in VOC emissions, and generally produced from agricultural crops. Because sunlight is generally the primary energy input (via photosynthesis), these products may be less energy-intensive to produce—though transportation and processing energy use must be considered. Examples include textiles such as organic cotton.
3. Products That Avoid Toxic or Other Emissions
3.1. Natural or minimally processed products — Products that are natural or minimally processed can be green because of low energy use and low risk of chemical releases during manufacture. These can include wood products, agricultural or nonagricultural plant products, and mineral products.
3.2. Products that conserve resources — Products that are made by hand are often far lesser resource intensive than similar products that have a mechanized manufacturing process. While this has significant positive environmental impact, the added benefits are associated with nurturing art forms and supporting artisans.
4. Products That Contribute to a Safe, Healthy Lifestyle
4.1. Products that improve quality of life — There is a growing body of evidence that natural products are beneficial to human health. While quality of life directly has an impact on the surrounding environment both at an individual as well as community level, at Green N Brown we have included products that enhance health, reduce stress levels and promote holistic well being.
4.2. Products that promote eco friendliness and inspire others – These are essentially products that overlap over several categories above, nonetheless the greatest impact of these products is promoting eco friendliness around inspiring others. Bonsai trees are a great example of such products.
Going Green with Eco Friendly Products
Change needs to happen from the bottom up – it is the individuals who need to drive the Green Revolution in their everyday lives. With such information at hand, now shoppers can look for eco footprint statements besides product specs to ensure they are not only shopping to save money but also saving the planet in a tangible way.
This article is authored by Naina Vaish, Evangelist N CEO, Green N Brown.
Green N Brown, an E-Market for sustainable and low eco-impact products, is a one stop shop for Greener Future. At Green N Brown.com we provide the best information and enjoyable shopping experience to our eco shoppers by offering a wide range of GREEN (eco-friendly) and BROWN (organic), hence Green N Brown.