There has been a genuine concern for the environment for many years, and as this concern grew, so did the number of products claiming to be eco-friendly. To discern whether or not a product in your home is actually good for you and the environment, you need to know what you’re dealing with. Here is a short guide to help determine whether a product is eco-friendly or a fraudulent attempt to make money off the green movement.
Read labels closely
To gauge a business’ commitment to green products, pay close attention to the wording and images on the labels, look for certifications and visit the company’s website.
Labels that read “green,” “all-natural,” “organic” or “eco-friendly” cannot always be trusted. In general, a genuinely caring company will be specific in describing the production of their stock — the more specific the wording, the more likely it is to be genuine. For example, a label that makes generalized claims like, “Made with all-natural and organic ingredients” is less likely to be legitimate than a label that reads, “Our product is manufactured at a plant concerned with leaving the smallest carbon footprint possible in our ongoing goal to reduce carbon emissions,” Triple Pundit says.
Additionally, companies often sell eco-friendly products dressed in shades of green and adorned with symbols of environmentally friendly manufacturing, when in reality the products are recyclable but the packaging is not biodegradable, nor is it constructed with recycled materials. When looking at labels, be sure to look for specific symbols to ensure what you’re buying is safe for our planet.
Consider unlikely culprits
Though many may not consider their home decor an environmental offender, the materials used for decor and furniture can often be as dangerous as chemically based home cleaners.
For example, you may be partial to your wall art that really ties the room but together, but some artwork, like canvas painting, are comprised of toxic chemicals and paints. Tapestries, on the other hand, are generally all-natural fibers without toxic paints. These forms of artwork are just as beautiful and colorful as their canvas counterparts but are much more environmentally friendly.
Additionally, you may not believe your living room furniture poses much of a threat to the planet, but some can be much worse than others. Luckily, furniture is one of the better regulated and more clearly marked products out there.
Check for certifications
When shopping for new “green” furniture, you will need to look for certifications on the individual pieces to confirm they are eco-friendly. These certifications fall into several categories:
Renewable Low-Emission & Sustainable Furniture American Furniture Manufacturing. This certification means that the furniture is made from low-emission CertiPUR-US polyurethane foam. These foams lack formaldehyde, mercury, lead and other heavy metals that are usually found in foams used in furniture. Essentially, CertiPur furniture is greener because it contains fewer harmful chemicals that damage the environment.
Indoor Air Quality Certifications involve rigorous quality standards of indoor air for paints, adhesives, claims, and sealants that are often used on furniture making.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) focuses on the sustainability of fabrics for furniture.
Material & Resources Certifications focus on products that are created from recycled content.
You can also check Green Seal for products and services that are environmentally sound. A good number of these certifications are evaluated and issued through the SCS Global Services.
Verifying that the products you use are manufactured by companies that care as much about the environment as you do can be tedious, but being certain that you’re on the side of the good guys — not the guys that jumped on the green bandwagon — is well worth it.
About the author: Jayme Cook loves DIY projects and previously worked in the home building and construction industry. Jayme studied writing in Wales, UK and is now an English instructor living in Phoenix, Arizona.