I don’t know for you but for me, when I go shopping for baby stuff, the vocabulary used to categorised all those products just let me baffled and not knowing what is the right choice. Seriously, what does eco-friendly product means nowaday? What are all the certifications? What’s the difference between this eco-friendly product and this sustainable product? I’m having issues keeping up with all those terms and I am specialised in Environment.
So, to help you guys in the choice of your products, I have decided to demystified a few terms. Here it is:
Eco-friendly: Eco-friendly has a really large meaning, seriously a lot of products could be categorised eco-friendly without really being good for the environment. When we talked about eco-friendly, it could be about the business being eco-friendly processes, meaning, the products they are using to make your products are considered low harm for the environment. It could be about the products, at the end of their life-cycle (when you are done with the item) the way of disposing of them won’t harm the environment. Eg. a toy that has batteries in compared to a recyclable toy. To know if an item is eco-friendly, I suggest you use the info that is given to you about in which material this is created, where it comes from and how will you dispose of it.
Sustainable: The sustainability definition is a balance between economy, social and environment which means what can be created that will still be economic and will protect the environment and be socially acceptable and this for the generations to come. Though, often, in the making of objects, sustainable, will be used to say that it was made of sustainable materials (renewable resources).
Ethical: Ethical refers to productions in developing countries and that people have been treated fairly to produced those items. We say ethical when there is no certification body assuring that it is the case. We talk about fairtrade when it is certified by a body. The thing is, small companies often cannot afford to get certified. Small companies are though easily reachable and you can asked them how they insured themselves it was made ethically. Often, they do have rigorous check as they are passionate about providing an ethical products. It may range from having visited the family who makes the item to only working with cooperative oversea.
Fairtrade: Refers to products ethical products with certifications. These are often used for coffee, chocolate and cotton. Organic cotton doesn’t mean fairtrade and vice versa.
Organic: Process to grow a plant, veggie or other that doesn’t use any chemicals. This way you are sure that no chemicals reach you. There are a few certifications worldwide for cotton, food and veggies. Some other do claim to be organic without certifications. Certifications for small businesses are expensive. If you learn to know and trust a small business, their version of organic might be adapted to you. I suggest you to get in contact with them and see how they insured themselves that their products are organic.
Local: It could mean made locally or designed locally or owned locally. Products that are made locally are very often advertised as such. Usually, when it’s written “Australian company” but not “Australian made” then the products and made oversea for a local company who resells the goods.
Biodegradable: The product is biodegradable and will reduce the quantity of waste in landfill. Some you can even compost in your home composter. Eg. Our mailing packages are biodegradable and friendly for your home composter.
Toxin-free: This terms refer to the safety for your baby. There are no chemicals in this product that are considered harmful for your baby. Armful chemicals could be: lead, BPA, arsenic, etc. Most of the products will have written on it what they are free from.
Recycled: Made of recycled material is a good way to reuse all the plastic and paper products we have used in our daily lifes. This doesn’t mean they can be recycled. Check on the product.
Recyclable: The product can be recycled which is a good way to reduce waste.
All in all, use the 4 R strategy (Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) to reduce your waste. Then, for the things you really need, use the above definitions to help you out in your choices.
Always happy to reply to any questions if you have any, I might have forgotten to cover one or two definitions that you see around.