Sunday, January 24, 2010

How do I know if a product is eco-friendly?

from Earth911:
Reducing your impact starts in the store. When choosing a product, considerations such as organic ingredients and fair trade materials play a big role, but packaging is also an important component of a product’s eco-friendliness. Opt for materials that are recyclable or made from post-consumer materials.

Perhaps one of the most recognizable labels, the universal recycling symbol is used to designate recyclable materials in a product or a product’s packaging. The three chasing arrows symbolize “closing the loop” by recycling and buying recycled products.

This makes it important to understand your curbside program or local recycling facilities. Once you have a handle on what is accepted, you can make better purchasing decisions.

To assure that you don’t fall victim to greenwashing (making misleading marketing claims about the environmental benefits of a product) look for one of these top 10 eco labels.

Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911.com

3 comments:

Laura said...

I find it odd that you (or "Earth 911", whatever that is) have chosen to illustrate a post on eco-conscious food choices with a photo of bananas, one of the worst offenders as far as "food miles" go. The co-op's bananas are shipped here from Ecuador and Peru--that means thousands of miles on climate-controlled planes spewing CO2. How is that an eco-friendly food choice? And why don't you mention the environmental damage involved in buying non-seasonal produce in your post?

Cynthia said...

Hi Laura,
Thanks for your comment. You're absolutely right that where a product came from and how it was transported to the co-op are important considerations. The blog post, which came from Earth911, focuses on terminology--what terms like organic and fair trade mean and what are some of the most common eco-labels used. It was not an all-inclusive discussion of everything that should be considered when buying a product. If people in the U.S. are going to buy bananas, and they are, it is better to buy ones that are grown in organic settings which do far less damage to the environment.

Laura said...

Hi Cynthia,
Thanks for your response. I understand the post was not meant to be all-inclusive, but I've looked back through the blog and couldn't find anything about this issue. In general, I'm confused about why the co-op places so much emphasis on a few issues, like GMOs, while basically ignoring the environmental impact of eating seasonally and locally.
It seems very cynical to me to suggest that people are going to buy bananas (or, say, organic apples from Argentina when it's the height of summer here) no matter what, so we shouldn't bother trying to educate anyone about the consequences of their choices. Yes, it's better to buy organic than not, but it's better still to eat seasonally. I don't know how the environmental committee works, but would like to respectfully submit that the committee take a look at what else the co-op could be doing to raise awareness about this issue.
Thanks.