Since the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, consumerism has become engrained into American culture. We’re constantly buying things we don’t need, throwing away things we don’t need and repurchasing things we don’t need. As Americans become aware of how consumerism impacts the environment negatively, more people are looking to make conscious and well-thought-out purchases, choosing eco-friendly brands, companies and products. When you’re making your next purchase, take a second to consult this eco-friendly product purchasing guide.
Indoor Air Quality Certification
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are chemicals typically used to maintain:
- Building materials
- Cleaning products
- Interior finishing products
- Personal care products.
As many of these products are used in a workplace or classroom setting, they possess high concentrations of VOCs that can pose hazardous risks to children, adults and the environment. When you see a product that is VOC certified, that product contains extremely low levels of VOCs making them nonhazardous to humans, Smarter Surfaces explains. VOCs also contribute to the production of ozone, which at the ground level is considered harmful, and excessive ozone levels can interfere with plant growth, crop yields, flora and fauna degradation, and contribute to global warming, Ultralast says. Avoiding products with VOCs or at least looking for VOC-certified products will reduce the amount of VOCs entering the atmosphere, and will result in a healthier environment for all inhabitants of this planet.
Energy Star Certification
Nothing is better than an eco-friendly product that saves the environment and saves you money. Energy Star-certified products — appliances, electronics, office equipment, lighting, water heaters and building materials — do just that. The Energy Star symbol is backed with guarantees for energy efficiency, credibility and unbiased information for consumers and businesses. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ensures every single product will protect the environment by cutting energy and water use while saving you money in the long run. Homes that have Energy Star products are usually 15-30 percent more efficient than new homes that don’t go green. Energy Star has also helped states and respective local governments reach and exceed their climate goals by preventing an additional 2.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, that would have been otherwise released, between 1992 and 2015.
Fair Trade Certified
When you see the Fair Trade certificate on a product, you can rest assured you’re supporting:
- A sustainable and ethical model of trade that puts people and the planet first.
- Aside from empowering and promoting the well-being of individuals and communities, Fair Trade ensures that the long-term impacts of environmental practices on livelihoods, communities and the planet is a positive one.
- These impacts include over 700 social, economic and environmental protections to protect farmers, workers, fishermen and the environment.
Eco-Friendly Brands & Companies
- Support companies that run on sustainable energy.
- Have eco-friendly packaging or have committed to environmentally friendly practices.
- Opt to buy from brands that provide their consumers with eco-friendly product buying guides and provide a clear explanation of ingredients and materials sourced.
Green options can be found for almost any product in every industry — not knowing about an eco-friendly option doesn’t mean that they’re not out there. Mattresses, for example, are not immediately thought of as an eco-friendly product. However, by avoiding mattresses with VOCs and other harmful chemicals, and carefully reading the list of materials and where they were sourced from, you will be better equipped to make an eco-friendly purchase.