The word "green" has long outgrown the color. It is used today in everyday speech when referencing anything related to the environment. "Green" is now used in fashion, architecture, product labels, food, and virtually anything you can imagine.
As terms such as sustainable, eco-friendly (or ecological friendly), environmentally friendly, environmentally conscious, and even the word green itself become more common, so does their ill-usage.
Thus, depending on how a brand uses these terms, they can mean a lot or nothing at all. We understand why there is confusion amongst consumers wanting to do right for the environment. As a result, we wanted to take the time to explain the difference between "green," "sustainable," and "environmentally-friendly," which are three of the most popular terms.
Knowing how these terms relate and how they differ can help you make a more educated purchase.
Sustainable & Sustainability
There is no definitive way or process in which sustainability can be achieved. However, technically speaking, the word "sustainability" is defined as "the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level."
Thus, when we apply this term to environmentally conscious practices, we are referring to the ability to maintain a healthy environment on a local or global scale.
As you might have already gathered, the terms "sustainability" and "sustainable" are not interchangeable. A sustainable product is an item that provides environmental, social, and economic benefits while also minimizing its impacts throughout its entire life cycle.
In other words, a sustainable product is one that, from the extraction of the raw materials needed for its production and all the way to the product's end of life, can be deemed as not being damaging or harmful for the environment.
Plus, the term "sustainable" also infers durability and longevity. If a product is of high quality, it is much less disposable than a product made to last a few short years and, as a result, more sustainable.
Green vs. Eco-friendly
The terms "green" and "eco-friendly" are much more simplistic and very closely related.
Something is called "green" when referencing anything that benefits the environment in some way — from products to services and business practices. In consequence, it is a very broad term and refers to the overall movement of more thoughtful and ethical production practices.
Calling or labeling something "green" suggests mindfulness for the planet. But, know that it is not tied to any certification or regulation.
Eco-friendly, ecologically friendly, or environmentally friendly are all use to reference the same thing. And is a synonym of something that is unharmful for the environment. It usually refers to products or services that do not contaminate the air or water or that contribute to sustainable living practices like recycling.
Both adjectives invoke a sense of environmental responsibility and that the company or brand cares about the environmental impact of their product or service offering.
Difference between Green, Sustainable and Eco-Friendly
Know that we know the definition of eco-friendly, green, and sustainable, we can assess how they oppose or differ.
Compared to '" green" and "eco-friendly" products, sustainable products and practices have much higher standards. More so, sustainability includes eco-friendly activities and green products, but green doesn't necessarily mean something is sustainable.
For example, a product made from renewable resources is considered "green." Yet if you analyze the product's life-cycle and turns out that:
- it required a lot of energy to manufacture it
- it required a lot of energy and processes to ship it to you
- there is not a proper way to dispose of it
Then that product cannot be considered sustainable. It might, however, be "eco-friendly" if it does not harm the environment or "green" if it was crafted through environmentally-conscious practices.
It is important to note that most of the terms we talked about throughout this article do not have a strict legal definition or usage requirement. In consequence, any brand or company could throw them around without any proof of green business practices.
Hence, if you truly want to make an environmentally conscious purchase, make sure you inquire about the product's life cycle and the company's sourcing process.
At Sunday and Lola, we promote a wide range of products. Some of these are eco-friendly, some are green, others are sustainable... We even have goods that are all three!
For example, our Kata Colorblock Jute Storage Basket is made out of only natural and green materials through small batch production that is also eco-friendly. And our Bamboo Pad Laundry Bag and Bamboo Pad Nest are 100% handmade out of bamboo that has been locally sourced and deemed sustainable.
Discover everything we have to offer! And remember every purchase you make at Sunday and Lola comes with a promise: that it's good for you, the makers, and the planet.