Choosing the right eco friendly products can be very confusing! Numerous brands and materials often turn a simple purchase into a 2-hour long research.
This is why we created the «ultimate guide for choosing eco-friendly products», explaining our priorities when buying a new product. We hope this guide can make it easier for green consumers to find products that make the world a better place.
In This Guide:
Importance of eco friendly products
How important is it to choose eco friendly products? Is it worth the effort or money? How much impact do our everyday decisions as consumers have on the environment?
Buying Eco-friendly products or green alternatives has an obvious importance of causing less harm to the environment. For example, products that consume less electricity or less petrol help reduce the amount of fossil fuels we burn. Products that use less water and are chemical-free help us conserve our water resources for future generations. Products packed with the use of biodegradable materials contribute to a cleaner environment for us and for the wildlife surrounding us.
Those are all great examples of the direct importance eco friendly products have on the environment. Beyond that, buying eco-friendly products also sends an important message.
When you’re buying eco-friendly products from a big brand you’re basically voting with your money. Your telling that big brand “Hi, I want to buy more products like this”. When a big company notices more people are buying their green alternatives – they make more of them to accommodate.
Another important point of buying green products is in the signals you send to people around you. When your friends and family notice you’re using a green product – and it does the work just as well as the non-eco friendly alternative – you’re setting a positive example, which goes a long way.
10 Guidelines for choosing eco-friendly products
Walking through the supermarket or scrolling for «green products» online, you see a lot more green alternatives than you would 10 years ago. This makes deciding what to buy a lot harder.
Here are the 10 guidelines I personally use when choosing new eco-friendly products
This is the first thing I check. I prefer reusable products that I can use again and again over disposable ones. Even if the disposable product is compostable and the reusable one isn’t, it’s still more practical.
Longevity is key. I always try to figure out how long the product in front of me is going to last. Sometimes I’ll choose a product made of non-degradable materials because I know it’s going to stick with me much longer than the degradable one. It’s a net positive, resource-wise.
3. Energy efficiency
When I buy products that run on electricity, petrol, or gas, I look for the ones that conserve energy. An easy way to go about it is to look for the “Energy Star” symbol. These products are usually a little pricier, but they end up saving money in the long run.
Lately, there are more and more products running on solar power which can be a great solution if you can plug them into your grid.
There’s a difference between “Low-energy” to “Energy efficient”. Buy a product that is appropriate for the task you need it to do. Energy conservation isn’t calculated in a vacuum.
To illustrate, someone can buy a new low-energy air-con for the living room, but it might fail to make the room cool by itself. So they end up using a fan to make up for it. That’s just missing the point of energy efficiency. You’re at a net loss – low-energy by itself doesn’t take your situation into account.
I know most people look at the material first when buying eco-friendly products, but I only recommend doing so after you checked the 3 steps above. A long-lasting material is better than a compostable material that needs to be replaced often. If you’re going for a disposable product try to find a product that is labeled “compostable” other than “biodegradable” – there’s a big difference.
For non-compostable products it’s important to make sure they are recyclable and that you have the option to recycle them in your area. Some types of plastic, like the one they use in plastic straws – it can’t be recycled. Glass and metal might be better options.
Try choosing products with compostable packaging like paper, card box, wood cotton and so on. Usually, when a product is marketed as eco friendly it will have a compostable or at least recyclable packaging.
It doesn’t always hold true, though.
Oftentimes when we order online, it’s hard to tell how the product is going to be packaged. For example, one may order organic shampoo in a glass container instead of plastic, but that will force the shipping company to tightly wrap it with, you guessed it, plastic. A good way to go about this is to ask the seller about their packaging options before ordering.
7. Manufacturing process
Investigating the manufacturing process of a company is going the extra mile when looking for an eco friendly product. This information is often hidden or just difficult to make sense of.
Not many people are aware that the textile industry is one of the 3 most contaminating industries in the world. Their footprint is in contaminating water sources, excessive burning of fossil fuels at factories, use of non-degradable materials and manufacturing of products that are not built to last.
Choosing to buy your clothes from a company or brand with an environmentally friendly manufacturing process can make a big difference.
8. Where it’s made
The country where the product was made can tell you a lot about it. Factories in developed countries are usually obeying strict rules when it comes to pollution or employee welfare. In my opinion, the best way to go about this topic is try and look for products that are either made in your own country or a nearby developed country. Otherwise, try to find out more details about the factory where the product is made.
9. Shipping distance
The shipment of goods around the world, whether it’s by air or by sea, uses immense amounts of fossil fuel. Buying local goods, or even goods that are manufactured in your country or state can make a big difference. It’s usually easy to find out where a product is made, just make a quick visit to the company’s website.
10. Brand size
Is it better to buy eco-friendly products from big brands or from small brands? I know many green consumers prefer the small, organic, 100% earth-friendly brand over big brands that have just one green alternative.
I believe that while supporting small eco-friendly brands is important and we all should do so, let’s not forget that buying the eco-friendly alternative product from big brands has big advantages. One of them is letting those brands know that green-products have a market and that they better make more green products instead of polluting ones.
Eco friendly cleaning products
What should a green consumer consider when buying eco friendly cleaning products?
For starters consider the chemical ingredients included in the product and if they are really necessary for the purpose you will use this product for. Some brands got us all worked up about germs in our house so that we spray them with chemicals. In truth, germs are everywhere and you can’t get rid of them – if anything, they’re better for your health than breathing chemicals.
Using microfibers can save a lot of chemicals.
Moreover, try buying efficient products that can last you a long time. Condensed products that you can just add water to are great for that matter. They are easy to ship, easy to store, take less packaging and last for a long time.
Eco-friendly laundry products
When it comes to laundry there’s lots of room for making the process more eco-friendly. Green consumers should consider getting energy-efficient appliances that use less electricity and water. Think about using eco-friendly detergent and drying clothes outside in the sun.
Eco-friendly kitchen products
Keeping your kitchen green is not only good for the environment but also healthy. Guidelines for buying new eco-friendly products are very helpful when buying new products for the kitchen. Our kitchen is full of many appliances that can be replaced with energy-efficient ones, and also many disposable, non-degradable products that can be replaced by durable and reusable alternatives.
Eco friendly plastic bags alternatives
Plastic bags are notorious for their impact of polluting our rivers and seas, they are disposable and not degradable. Lately, there’s an abundance of new substitutes for plastic bags from compostable materials, plant-based materials, or very durable materials. Here I believe the most eco friendly way to go is using durable and reusable bags.
Eco-friendly bathroom products
Products for the bathroom usually involve our personal hygiene. Some products, like toilet paper, had better be disposable. When going for a disposable product, try to keep it compostable or at least recyclable. Make sure the packaging is also plastic-free.
Eco friendly coffee
To keep your cup of coffee eco friendly you should take a few factors into consideration. First of all, the cup itself – try not using disposable cups. If you do, at least use compostable alternatives. Owning a coffee maker that is using a permanent filter goes a long way. Permanent filters and cups result in a tastier cup of coffee, guaranteed.
Products made of recycled bottles
In an effort to support the recycling industry, and to increase the market for recycled plastic, some brands are now releasing products that are solely made from recycled bottles. Those products, even though made of plastic, are reusable and very durable. They also send a strong message to people around you.
Where to buy eco-friendly products?
Eco friendly products can be found everywhere. If you can’t find a good enough green alternative in your hometown supermarket, go online. The obvious options will be Amazon or Walmart – by entering the search term “product name + eco friendly” and then following the guidelines we stated above to make sure the product is really green enough for your needs.
Eco-friendly products websites
Home & garden products
Eco friendly presents
Eco friendly furniture and home decor
Eco friendly clothing stores
Browsing through online eco-friendly clothing stores you will find brands that are not a part of what is known as “fast fashion”. Clothing materials should be natural, plant-derived and recyclable. Production lines of these brands will also usually have a more sustainable approach like minimizing the use of water and chemicals. Most factories will also supply their workers with decent working conditions.
Here are a few eco friendly clothing websites:
Eco friendly products on amazon
Amazon can be a great place to find eco-friendly products if you know what to look for. Here on thelessen.com we review many Amazon products in the effort to present our readers with the best green alternatives that suit their needs.