Understanding eco terminology
Sustainable and sustainability are different
There are a lot of views on what sustainability is and how it can be achieved, but essentially the word sustainability can be defined as the ability to maintain a healthy environment, social and economic systems indefinitely, on a local and global scale. But, the words sustainable and sustainability have slightly different meanings and can’t be interchanged.
Sustainable products are those that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits while minimizing the impact on the earth.
What are the differences between eco-friendly and green?
These terms have similar meanings, but green tends to be used to explain anything that benefits the environment, and eco-friendly or environmentally friendly is not as broad, and essentially means something that doesn’t harm the planet.
How about natural vs organic?
Products labeled as natural contain ingredients that derive from nature and aren’t created by humans.
Organic products include ingredients from farming practices that aim to avoid using artificial fertilizers or synthetic chemicals, like pesticides or herbicides. These products don’t use genetically modified crops, growth promoters, or hormones.
Are degradable and biodegradable really that different?
It’s common for people to use these terms interchangeably, but they don’t actually have the same meaning.
Degradable products and plastics don’t need living organisms as part of their breakdown process, chemical additives are instead used in the plastic that allow the item to break down quicker than it would alone. Sometimes degradable materials can be bad for the natural environment though, as they disintegrate they break up into smaller and smaller pieces called micro plastics.
Biodegradable plastic, on the other hand, is made from plant-based materials such as corn and wheat starch rather than petroleum – but they do require specific conditions in order to breakdown. For example, temperatures need to reach over 50 degrees Celsius and the plastic should be exposed to UV light.
It can be a challenge to try and get your head around these different eco terms. Understanding the differences is important, but remember any product that is doing something to help, or not to harm, the environment is a step in the right direction.