With finals season approaching an end, students can finally focus on enjoying the winter break and getting involved in the holiday festivities. This time of the year is when there are many sales in stores and a lot of people are buying products, whether it is gift shopping, or taking advantage of sales to purchase products for personal use, we should be mindful of the sources of these products and make sure they are truly “green”.
Now what exactly is a “green product” you may be wondering. We often hear the terms “environmentally friendly”, “sustainable”, “eco-friendly” and other similar terms to describe products and there are many ways to define these products but they all come down to the same thing: a product that does not harm the environment. Throughout a green product’s life cycle, whether it be production, consumption or life after use, the product’s impact on the environment must be considered. Here are some things to keep in mind while looking for green products to buy:
Check if the product is ethically sourced. This includes ensuring it was produced with fair labor and that the raw materials for the product come from an ethical source and were not extracted in a way that would harm the environment. One way to check this is to look up Fair Trade products.
Another thing to look out for when purchasing something from a company is the company’s stance on the environment. Have they made efforts to protect the environment? There have been instances where a company would claim it is green but it was later discovered it wasn’t. This is known as “greenwashing”. Be wary of buying greenwashed products. One way to ensure that a company actually is green is to look it up on the B-corp Directory. This is a list of companies which have B Corp Certification. This certification assesses the overall impact of a company rather than just a product.
Is the product itself an eco-friendly product? Does its use harm the environment in any way? Try looking for products that are energy efficient for example. Or products that retain their value longer and have a long consumer life so that you aren’t purchasing the same product frequently.There are some products that are inherently not green such as single use plastics. Steer clear from such products and look into buying a sustainable alternative.
Post Consumer Life
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a sustainable product’s post consumer life is whether it is recyclable. This is a step in the right direction. Another thing to keep in mind when discarding old products is to ask yourself whether it really is at the end of its life. Could the product be reused by someone else? In that case you could donate the product instead of throwing it away so that it has a second life.
Hopefully now you have a better understanding of what to look for when buying a product. Happy shopping season!
Written by Hanyia Ahmed, Class of 2022
Source of photo: https://www.strategy-business.com/article/The-rise-of-the-eco-friendly-consumer