Going Green: What Does It Mean?

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When I was asked to write a blog centered on an eco-friendly topic, I was a little apprehensive. I’m not necessarily the most earth-friendly person. I take long showers, don’t always separate my garbage from my recyclables and when there have been Ozone Alert Days, I’ve been known to fill up my gas tank BEFORE 6 p.m.

Along with all of that, I’m not exactly sure what the term, ‘eco-friendly’ means. Throw in other big words such as sustainability, greentailing and reforestation and you’ve really lost me. But while I was brainstorming eco-friendly topics, it hit me; other people out there have to be like me! You probably would love to know what being ‘eco-friendly’ entails, but in order to not offend or irritate your environmentally-focused friends, you haven’t popped the question. So, this blog post is for all of you out there who have the need to go ‘green’ – and want to show your customers you are knowledgeable about one of the hottest descriptive words being used today.

At its most basic, ‘eco-friendly’ means it is not endangering and harming Earth, or the environment in general. That’s a great starting point, but what is it that makes something ‘green?’ According to Daniel Holzer, a freelance writer for Demand Media, being eco-friendly and creating eco-friendly products all starts with being more aware of how we use the resources around us. For example, products that reduce air, water and land pollution are eco-friendly. And, items that help conserve these resources, along with energy, are considered eco-friendly as well.

On a personal level, it’s important for us all to be aware of how we are treating our environment. Holzer said you can start being eco-friendly simply by turning off the lights in one room when leaving it for another, or by not running the water while you brush your teeth. Even in your business you can implement green practices, such as recycling and carpooling.

But most importantly, you have a responsibility as a business owner or employee to provide your customers with products that will do more good than harm. Keep the following in mind when finding, and making eco-friendly product suggestions:

•    At the very least, the eco-friendly product should be non-toxic. Some items may be marked as being free of chlorine, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or wood preservatives, which is good because this minimizes damage to the ozone layer.

•    Encourage products that are made from recycled materials, including glass, wood, metal or plastic. Many times items will be marked as being ‘biodegradable,’ which is a huge help to the environment; these types of items decompose naturally and are less harmful to the ecosystem.

•    If making food recommendations, suggest those made with organic ingredients that were grown without synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, and are produced in a way that replenishes and renews soil fertility. Or, find locally produced, unprocessed food that doesn’t have to travel far between destinations and conserves energy.

•    Utilize manufacturers and vendors whose products are approved or certified as being eco-friendly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ENERGY STAR program or even a consumer advocacy group, like Green Good Housekeeping Seal, as Holzer suggested.

Being eco-friendly and finding eco-friendly products entails much more than just one thing, and involves even more than what I’ve already mentioned. To truly help preserve the environment, each person plays a role – and that’s why it’s important to learn more about what it truly means to be green!

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