There are many worlds flying around these days that are similar and used interchangeably, but aren’t technically interchangeable. When it comes down to the details and what word to use, many people ask: What’s the correct word to use when? What’s the difference? Why does it matter? Here is a breakdown of the commonly interchanged words green, eco-friendly, and sustainable.
“Green” is more of an umbrella term for the movement of being aware of the impact we have on our ecological systems and economy. It is a general term and can be used for things that might not necessarily be either eco-friendly or sustainable; “green” can refer to something recyclable or something that is slightly better for the earth than a mainstream product in reference to architecture, clothing, cars, and other materials. It’s not a very specific term and can be used pretty loosely by many people and companies.
This term pertains to the awareness of our impact on this earth and environment, hence the term “eco”. Products that are eco-friendly are ones that are intended to not do harm to the planet, and are usually made from recycled or recyclable materials, sometimes biodegradable materials, and may be manufactured in such a way that is better than mainstream manufacturing (eg. uses less electricity, is conscious of pollution, uses less plastic). This is also in terms of electric cars and building materials like bamboo.
“Sustainable” can refer to a lifestyle that reduces waste, but more commonly specifically refers to the full life cycle of a product. From idea, to sourcing materials, to fairly paying workers, to how many resources go into manufacturing, to packaging, to shipping, to purchasing, the life cycle of a product can either help our planet or pollute it.
A great definition of “sustainable” comes from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This is why I choose to use the word “sustainable” on this website; because moving towards a fully sustainable society, a fully sustainable earth, will help protect our planet for generations to come, and teaching the next generation about sustainability is how we are going to achieve this.
Honestly, there are few products that are truly, fully “sustainable”, which is why I’ve searched and do my best to provide truly sustainable options as well as the next best thing. I’m also constantly learning as new sustainable products and processes come on the market, so please share with me any source of sustainability you’ve found.
Let’s do the best we can!
Regardless of what we call it, it’s broken down into this simple act: being good stewards of our earth. All of our natural resources come from the earth, and if we destroy it faster than we are helping to regenerate it, the likely conclusion is that we will eventually no longer have these resources. I, for one, want to teach our children to consciously care for our earth so that our future generations can have it for years to come. By each of us being as conscious and intentional as reasonably possible, we can provide for our loved ones for years to come.
Sustainable products are the best for our health and environment, but truly sustainable products can be hard to find. This is why our site focuses on finding the most truly sustainable products out there, and recommending the closest things we can find when sustainability might not be an option.
While we have gotten into modern habits and might be comfortable with many of the things and ways we currently purchase, changing even one to a more sustainable source or product can make a big impact in the long run. If we change one thing at a time in a time frame that works for us, and teach our children to make the most sustainable choices they can in the life they have, we can continue caring for our planet one person at a time.