The Ultimate Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Guide
Whether you are looking for more information about Eco-friendly living, or you want to start adopting an Eco-friendly lifestyle, you are in the right place. This is your ultimate Eco-friendly lifestyle guide.
In this guide I provide you with a nice overview and some important definitions. This should help you understand exactly what you are going into. Then, I talk about the strong reasons why you should be Eco-conscious, and I support this by showing you some examples.
Once you get a good idea about the guide topic, I provide you with proven tips that should help you to fully adopt the Eco-friendly lifestyle.
Then I show you some examples of stores and brands that promote, and support, the environmental movement.
I also provide you with a list of products, and solutions, that should make you achieve some of what you will learn in this guide.
Are you getting excited? Me too.
First, let’s start with some basic understanding of the word almost everyone says and talks about, Eco-Friendly!
What does Eco-friendly really mean?
You read the term Eco-friendly too many times on a lot of products’ packages, and on images in online stores like Amazon, but is it only describing products?
In fact, no.
This term Eco-friendly describes every product and every practice that is not harmful to the environment.
And by not harmful to the environment, I do not mean being on the negative side about it. I mean as well to take action towards protecting the environment. And this can happen by doing your best to save nature, reduce pollution and waste.
Unfortunately, the term Eco-friendly and other related terms have been overused commercially. In other words, some brands that use them in green-washing to increase sales. They do this to appeal to Eco-conscious buyers who look specifically for products that don’t harm the environment.
However, the International Standardization Organization “ISO” has developed standards. These standards are for principles and procedures that brands need to follow in order to use environmental labels, and entities that certify the use of these labels should follow them as well.
So in order to help support these efforts and avoid green-washing, you should look for products that have certified labels like “Energy Star” or approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “EPA”. We will talk about them later in this guide.
The Environmental Movement
The start of the environmental movement goes back to the 19th century. It started as a response to the high levels of air pollution during the industrial revolution. This led to the formation of modern environmental laws, to control and try to remove this side effect.
Later, environmental protection societies started to formulate and grow. Then in the 20th century, efforts to save the environment and wildlife started to be stronger. And unfortunately, this happened only after the extinction of the passenger pigeon, and the endangerment of the American bison.
The U.S. movement started to take off after World War II, and environmental activists wrote a lot of books and researches to support the movement along the way.
The first earth day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, after the oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969. Then, the U.S. has passed several environmental laws and legislation in the 1970s. Examples of them are the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and National Environmental Policy Act.
In Europe, the U.K.’s first Clean Air Act was created in 1956, after the Great London Smog that killed thousands of people in 1952.
Later in 1967, a supertanker shipwrecked on a reef of the southwest coast of the U.K., causing the spill of an estimated 25-36 million gallons of crude oil. This incident killed marine life along the coast and affected hundreds of miles across the U.K. coast, and also Spain and France were affected. In 1972, the U.N. created the UN Environment Program which is responsible for U.N. environmental activities.
We can’t mention the environment in Europe without saying a word about Chernobyl. Right?
I will be brief.
After the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in 1986, a huge campaign has started. It was called the All-Ukrainian environmental campaign which led later to state independence. Eventually, it had a role in the fall of communism across central and eastern Europe.
This quick overview shows that Eco-friendly is not just a term, that brands can take lightly in marketing as green-washing. It has roots since the 19th and movements that should be respected and embraced.
What is the difference between Eco-Friendly, Sustainable, and Zero Waste Living?
When we call something Eco-friendly, we generally mean it doesn’t harm the environment. This can be a way of life, a product, or a certain activity. Eco-friendly or environmentally friendly is the main topic this guide is focusing on.
But what are the other related terms that we can’t go without when we talk about the environment? Sustainability!
Sustainability goes a step further by not only focusing on the product or practice that doesn’t harm the environment. It means that a product or a practice cares about the future condition of the environment, for the sake of the next generations.
So, in order to sustain environmental resources and avoid consuming or damaging them, a lot of practices are followed and adopted in sustainable living.
What is sustainable living?
Sustainable living is a lifestyle where you do your best to reduce the usage and consumption of natural resources. And it goes beyond the living activities, it means also using products that are made following sustainable practices.
We will talk about some of the sustainability tips later in this guide. But, just to explain, an example of these lifestyle practices is to purchase products that can be used over a long period of time instead of disposed.
I know that this is over-simplification of the term sustainability, but I am not here to make it more complex. I am just explaining the relation between the main terms we talk about often.
However, I have to tell you that sustainability is serious about food as well through a system called, Sustainable Food System.
The sustainable food system has many definitions, each organization has its own explanation of it. But in short, it is a system that makes sure that everything that surrounds food production is sustainable, this includes but not limited sustainable agriculture.
Another very important and critical term is Zero Waste living. In this living concept, a set of principles are followed to make sure materials are reused to the maximum level before getting disposed of. And this is done in order to prevent waste as much as possible.
Zero waste principles in general go broader. And this is by trying to reduce waste in the production, packaging, and consumption of products in order to protect the environment.
Being 100% Zero Waste is not easy to achieve, but it should be your big goal that can help to reduce waste as much as possible.
Why you should be eco-conscious?
Maybe you are here because you know one or two of the environmental issues, and you hope to take part in solving them.
But is this enough to motivate you to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle?
Do you think that only using products that are safe for your health, and your children’s health, is going to solve all the environmental challenges?
No, this is not enough!
You should be aware of all the issues that the environment is facing right now. And get a deep understanding of their root causes, and impact on our lives.
Why? In order to strongly stand on solid ground, while you are fighting to achieve your environment protection mission.
Did Corona-virus pandemic and quarantine help?
With the 50th anniversary of earth day, the whole world took a massive hit by the corona-virus pandemic. This caused every country, every
business, and every single person to change habits and practices. It also changed the way we deal with earth and the environment, due to quarantine measures.
By the end of April and the beginning of May 2020, the largest Ozone hole ever recorded has been closed. Skies became clear of pollution. Waters became so clear that wildlife returned to it. And the oil prices went negative because of the very low to zero demand.
And pandemic forced all this to happen!
A relief for the earth. A change that no one could convince anyone to realize, and achieve, without a major global force that changes everything.
However, how much time would this relief last? Do you believe that people will keep earth happy for a long time?
Once economies start to open doors; factories, trains, airplanes, freight vessels, and every pollution source on earth will start working again. And not just that, it will start working on double, if not triple, the speed and capacity it was working on before the pandemic.
So, the earth will not enjoy the clear skies, and waters, and holes-free Ozone layer for long. This is why you should be eco-conscious!
You might be reading this guide months or years after the coronavirus pandemic ends, and you already know that what I said above is true. And this is a stronger reason to start being eco-conscious and adopt the eco-friendly lifestyle today by following this guide.
So what are the major environmental issues that earth is currently struggling with because of us? Let’s start with climate change.
The effects of climate change as per NASA researches can’t be ignored. And the previously predicted effects are now occurring.
Unfortunately, the global climate is will continue changing over the current century. Temperatures will continue to rise. Heat waves will be more intense, and hurricanes are going to become stronger. As per the expectations.
Not only that!
Based on expectations as well, sea levels will rise 1 to 4 feet by 2100. Take into considerations that they have risen only 8 inches since record-keeping began in 1880. This is a result of ice melting, which could increase flooding with storms as well.
NASA also expects that the Arctic ocean to be ice-free in summer, before the middle of the century. Oops, can you imagine that?!
Now, by speaking of the oceans. How the oceans are suffering as well because of our careless actions with the environment?
Oceans are covering 70% of the earth surface. And they have been doing a critical role in saving the earth from our harmful practices. They absorb more than 90% of the heat caused by carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases. This helps so much in slowing down global warming.
But oceans are now fed up!
They are getting hotter themselves and more acidic. Also, sea levels are getting higher by time, because of the melting of ice sheets and glaciers.
Carbon dioxide produces carbonic acids in seawater. This prevents many species in the ocean from building their hard skeletons or shells. Unfortunately, this can affect the fish population which greatly threatens seafood supplies and people who depend on them.
The increase of ocean heat increases as well the volume of water in the oceans because normally water expands with heat.
Also, it changes the ocean current which affects the climate as a whole. And this can cause heavy rain and snow, and stronger storms and hurricanes.
Changes in ocean temperature also alter the migration and the breeding systems of the species living in the ocean. They also provide strength to certain bacteria than can contaminate and poison seafood. Of course, this causes many health effects.
Sea levels that are getting higher can cause issues for buildings and structures built on the coasts, and increase coastal flooding. And this is a major concern. Because about 8 million Americans, and $1 Trillion worth of property and structures, are so close to the coastline.
These are not the only issues in our oceans, plastic plays a huge role as well.
Plastic is durable and cheap, right?
It can also be used for most commercial purposes. However it takes a lot of greenhouse gas emissions to produce, and tons of those emissions and hundreds of years to break down.
Not only that, wait for it..!
The world production of plastic is around 100 million tons annually. In the U.S. only 10% of the production is recycled, and tons of plastic waste (especially one-use and disposable plastic products), are thrown in the ocean besides landfills.
If you want to see a horrific example of plastic waste that buries ocean species, take a look at Eastern Garbage Patch. It is a huge pool of trash in the Pacific Ocean about the size of Texas.
Plastic causes a huge amount of waste, but what about food?
Here you are some mind-blowing facts!
Did you know that the global volume of edible food waste is around 1.3 billion tonnes? And its carbon footprint is estimated at 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 per year?
Not only that!
The total volume of water used to produce food that is wasted is three times the volume of Lake Geneva. And 28% of the world’s agriculture area is used to produce the same amount of wasted food.
If you want to read a 60+ pages report prepared by the Food & Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO), I recommend heading to this report.
According to the FDA and the U.S. department of agriculture, 30% to 40% of the food supply is wasted in the United States.
Let me blow your mind even further with some stats from the U.K. These facts are derived from popular websites like Wrap.org.uk and FriendsofEarth.uk:
- More than 20 billion GPB worth of food is wasted yearly in the U.K.
- 50 millions of chicken and 50 millions of liters of Milk are wasted yearly.
- 810 GBP is the amount of money an average British family spends on wasted food per year.
- 240,000 tons of food is wasted or thrown away yearly by supermarkets in the U.K.
I believe these quick facts are enough to convince you, that you should consider food waste reduction. It should take a major part in your eco-friendly lifestyle.
Environmental sustainability examples
Why are we even talking about environmental sustainability examples?
Nature, if left alone, can sustain itself efficiently. But unfortunately, we don’t allow it to do so.
We keep consuming natural resources. And we don’t stop causing harm to the environment without considering the future generations. We don’t actually think about how will they enjoy, and live, in a consumed and polluted environment.
So let’s take a minute to talk about environmental sustainability practices, made by eco-conscious people and organizations. These practices should help the future generations to positively benefit from the environment, as we do.
Now, let me show you some of these examples.
In sustainable agriculture, farmers use crop rotation by planting different crops in the same area in different seasons. This leads to more soil fertility and less use of chemical fertilizers. Also, farm waste can be recycled and used to increase soil nutrition.
Forests play a very important role in environmental sustainability. They absorb pollution and provide the earth with pure oxygen.
Sustainable forestry helps to solve the problem of deforestation due to harmful activities. And this is by replacing trees that are felled with seedlings that grow into normal tress by time. And thus avoid the problem of deforestation.
Also, we can greatly reduce the use of natural resources by following sustainable construction. In this concept, we design and construct buildings in a way that ensures the efficient use of energy.
For example, we “eco-conscious people and businesses” can design houses in warm places, so that sunlight doesn’t enter the house so much. This can help to avoid making the house very hot. And also make sure there is enough natural ventilation and light.
And in cold places, we can design houses to make sure sunlight enters all the rooms as much as possible, to make them warmer and have enough light. Also to make sure the walls are insulated, to keep the warm temperature inside the house.
One important method of environmental sustainability is sustainable water management. In which we use water treatment plants to help to reuse water in a healthy and efficient way. As well as the usage of showerheads and bathroom taps, that control the water flow and prevent unneeded waste of water.
Waste management as well doesn’t only focus on handling the waste of used stuff. It starts with product design, manufacturing, packaging, and marketing.
The whole life-cycle of the product is considering the sustainability of the environment. And that’s by making all the items involved with the product from recyclable, or biodegradable, or compostable material.
And the last but not least example is the use of renewable energy. Like solar energy, wind energy, and hydroelectric power generation from running rivers and waterfalls. In fact, China dominates these 3 renewable energy production methods.
Now you know all the information you need about the Eco-friendly lifestyle and why it is important. You can start reading some important tips, that should help you to start adopting this lifestyle.
There are several ways to adopt an eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle. I will do my best to explain them below.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The purpose of this concept is to reduce the amount of waste generated globally and support sustainability. This starts at the individual level, and it starts with you taking action.
In 2013, Americans alone generated about 254 million tons of trash, as per the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Which forced the
government, and environmental organizations, to develop waste management solutions to overcome this issue.
So, the Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle concept is a critical part of the waste management solution.
It is important because it helps you to reduce the amount of waste in the first place. And this is by refusing to buy things you don’t need. Reusing the items you have many times. And recycling things that have to be disposed of, in the appropriate recycling centers.
In order to start reducing waste, you need to reduce buying more items as I mentioned above. So, you always have to ask yourself some basic questions before buying anything. Like:
- Do you really need it?
- Can you get 2 or 3 functions bundled in one product, instead of buying 2 or 3 products?.
Let me help you with some examples that should give you more idea about the “reduce” part:
- Try to go paperless. Use technology instead of wasting paper.
- If you have to use papers, then get the most out of them.
- If you are shopping, avoid redundant or too much packaging, and buy in bulk.
- Use eco-friendly shopping bags, like the ones I will show you later in this guide.
Now, after you have reduced the inputs, you need to start the “reusing” part:
- Try to borrow old or used items that others don’t need anymore. And share what you don’t use anymore with others.
- If you can, try to buy used, or used like new, items when possible.
- Avoid disposable items as much as possible, and get reusable ones.
The last phase in this concept is the “recycle” part. Recycling is turning used product materials into new products, instead of throwing them away.
And this helps in reducing waste and saving natural resources and energy. It also helps in preventing pollution normally caused by using new raw materials, instead of recycled materials.
You recycle almost anything if you can’t reuse it. And the first step to achieve this is to buy only products made from recyclable materials.
These recyclable materials can be steel or aluminum cans, paper, or glass. But make sure to avoid buying products that contain harmful or toxic material. Because this can cause issues or prevent efficient recycling.
Now when it comes to food, it is all about health, taste, and enjoyment. So, I am not concerned about giving you orders to what to eat, and not to eat. I just provide tips that can help you save the environment while enjoying the food you love.
You can contribute to waste reduction by using tote bags while grocery shopping. And you can choose food that is not wrapped in plastic. It is best to have the least amount of packaging in products like fruits and vegetables.
Try storing your food in reusable glass jars and containers. And while doing so, store leftovers that you aren’t going to eat in the future, and repurpose them as compost for your backyard garden. Don’t throw them away, your garden will thank you.
Speaking of backyard gardens, it is very important to start farming your own food. Whenever possible, buy and plant seeds and seedlings from the local grocery stores and garden centers. Then start growing your food in your backyard garden.
This should reduce the pollution released, and energy wasted. Because this will reduce the shipping of the fruits and vegetables, from the farms to the grocery stores, nationally and internationally.
If it is not possible at all to grow your own food, you can support local farmers. You can buy from them instead of buying food that is stored for long, and shipped from distant locations.
You can also regrow fruits and vegetables using some sunlight and water. Some examples of what you can regrow are green onions, celery, carrots, mint, pineapples, sweet potatoes, and potatoes.
Do your best to eat organically grown food because it uses less energy, and produces less greenhouse gas emissions. It also doesn’t use harmful chemicals and fertilizers.
Some food tips from the FDA and EPA
In the U.S., the national waste reduction goal is to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030. And FDA has prepared some tips to help you protect the environment.
As per the FDA tips, start now to have shopping or grocery lists ready before going to the grocery or the local store. This will help you to
avoid the over-purchasing of items you already have, or don’t need.
Put smaller portions on your plate, to avoid wasting food you don’t need, or forces you to overeat. If you are at a restaurant always ask to take out the leftovers. You can eat them at home, or donate the food to poor homeless people in the street.
Besides supporting poor and hungry people, the donation of extra food can reduce and eliminate food waste in the long run.
Another good tip by the FDA is that you can buy “not so good looking” fruits and vegetables which everybody avoids. And you can use them in salads or juices made at home. Sometimes they are cheaper and you will save the environment, and reduce waste doing so.
The FDA also advises to use the freezer properly and utilize an application called FoodKeeper App. This app helps to understand the best way to store food and beverages, based on their types.
Another important thing to note is that food product dating unfortunately can increase food waste. Because people tend to avoid altogether food with very soon expiry date, as shown on the product package. And it is estimated that 20% of food waste by consumers happens because they misunderstand date labeling.
Are there any federal laws that regulate this?
In fact, there is no federal law or regulation that forces manufacturers to place date labels on food packages, to indicate expiry or quality issues.
FDA supports the use of (Best if used by) instead of “Expires by” for example. And this in order to show the consumer what date the product should be consumed by, to get the best quality of the food.
However, after this (Best if used by) date passes, the consumer should examine and test noticeable food changes. Like the smell, color, or texture and avoid eating spoiled food. This is more helpful in waste reduction than using “Sell by”, “Best by”, “Expires by” labels.
In the U.S. alone, 80% of freshwater, 10% of available energy, and 50% of the land is consumed to produce food for people in the U.S.
Food waste takes a huge part in landfills and methane emissions, which is a major factor in global warming. Besides that, Americans throw out around $165 billion worth of food yearly as per the FDA.
And last but not least. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – EPA, recommends the following sequence to reduce waste. And advises on the best use of food, sorted based on preferability:
- Reduce the surplus food produced.
- Donate extra food.
- Convert food leftovers and scraps to animal food.
- Use for industrial use.
- And the last resort is a landfill.
The regular energy generation and consumption behaviors are of the most important factors that cause harm to the environment.
We should always find ways to stay away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal as much as possible. And generate or produce renewable energy like solar energy, wind energy, hydropower energy, and also geothermal energy. Those are the most common renewable and eco-friendly energy sources.
But even if we use renewable energy, we can do our best to protect the environment by saving energy. And this is by reducing our consumption as much as possible.
However, we can’t start talking about energy saving tips and practices without bringing up Energy Star®.
What is Energy Star?
Energy Star® program was established in 1992 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Its purpose was to provide American businesses and consumers with information. And this should help them to make informed decisions, regarding energy usage and efficiency.
The program partners with around 40% of fortune 500, and thousands of organizations. These partnerships help to provide energy-efficient solutions, that are tested and certified by Energy Star.
In 2018 alone, the program has contributed to saving around 430 billion Kilowatt-hours of electricity and $35 billion in energy costs. It also helped in the reduction of 330 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. And also the reduction of a total of 3.5 billion metric tons since 1992, as per the energy star website.
This program’s role cannot be ignored when we talk about tips to save energy. So the first tip is to use Energy Star certified products and appliances.
Now, choosing certified products alone will not totally save the environment. This won’t help if they are misused or accompanied by other harmful practices.
So, what can we do more to contribute to saving energy?
First, if you haven’t already done so, you need to switch all your light bulbs to LEDs, and use natural lights when possible. Turn off and unplug any devices while not in use. Use laptops instead of desktop computers and avoid screensavers. Just make your computer sleep while not in use.
Make sure – if possible – to use smart power strips to avoid phantom loads, or electricity used by devices and appliances, while they are on standby or shutdown. With smart power strips, you can schedule a turn off time, use remote switches, or turn off in an inactivity period.
When you wash your clothes, it is better and more eco-friendly to wash them in cold water and hang dry them instead of using a dryer. And while washing your dishes, use air dry instead of heater dry in the dishwasher if possible.
Controlling the temperature consumes too much energy. However, you can reduce this energy consumption by sealing racks, fixing leaks, and insulating your house. Also, you can use shades and blinds to control your home temperature, before considering to use the AC.
Use energy-efficient windows to keep your home temperature, without leaking heat or cold inside or outside your home. It is helpful as well to place appliances that cause heat, away from thermostats.
Use ceiling fans in winter and summer to circulate the hot and cold air in the room, and provide more comfort while reducing energy consumption. Some ceiling fans can operate in the opposite direction to force warm air to go down the room.
Set the AC and the fridge temperature to the required optimal temperature, to not overheat or over cool, and consume more energy.
And last but not least, try to plan your trips to reduce the use of your car and try to combine trips if possible.
Human beings can’t live without water, but we are wasting water all day long, besides polluting it as I mentioned with oceans earlier in this guide.
Let me give you some numbers!
As per the Natural Geographic website, wasted water on average is as follows:
- 10 gallons/day lost because of leaks.
- 70 gallons are required to fill a bathtub.
- 20 gallons/day are used per toilet flush.
- 20 gallons each time you hand wash your dishes.
- 22,000 gallons of water to fill an average pool.
- 100 gallons of water are used to grow a single pound of cotton.
- 150 gallons of water are used to wash a car.
- 13 gallons of water to produce a gallon of gasoline.
These numbers and many more should convince you to start changing some practices, to help reduce the consumption of this vital natural resource.
The first thing you should consider is to fix any leaks in your bathroom or kitchen. Reduce shower time and use a low flow showerhead or a shower head with the controlled flow. And of course, try to avoid bathtubs, showers are more efficient.
Use Energy Star dishwashers that are energy and water efficient, instead of hand washing. Energy Star dishwashers use around 4 gallons per load. And in general, you should only use dishwashers and laundry washing machines when they are full, not half loaded. Except if the machine can be programmed to efficiently wash a half load.
But you can do more!
If you have a pool in your home, cover it to avoid wasting water due to evaporation. Wash your car less frequently to save water. Turn on the hose only in the final rinse, not during the whole car washing process, and use a bucket instead.
Try to buy “used like new” clothes to reduce the consumption of cotton and similar materials. And as much as possible plan your car trips as I said earlier to reduce gasoline consumption, which leads to saving water.
Another tip that you might already know, is that you should turn on the tap only when you are actually using the water. Your hands or your
razor should be just below the tap when water is flowing. Other than that, the water tap should be turned off tightly, to save water and avoid dripping.
And it is better also to install low-flush toilets, to reduce 40%-50% of your water usage while flushing the toilet.
When it comes to your lawn or garden, you need to consider your watering behavior very well. Some of the water you use at home and waste in the sink can be re-used to irrigate the garden, like the water you use to wash fruits and vegetables. EPA has some good information about water recycling.
Review your gardening practices
If possible you can use drip irrigation instead of sprinkling and the gardening hose. However, if you can’t go without them, you need to use them efficiently to make sure you are not over-irrigating. And avoid wasting water that can fill the driveaway or the street without being used.
Irrigate less frequently and in the morning or evening not in the hot part of the day. Also, the EPA recommends creating less lawn and grass and plant more trees and shrubs. And to keep moisture in the soil, it is better to not cut the grass too short because the grass shades can help in that. If possible as well, collect rainfall for irrigation.
I hope the Tips section was helpful and provided you with enough guidelines to start adopting an Eco-friendly lifestyle. Let’s now talk about some brands that support the environment as you do.
Stores & Brands
Brands have started to be aware that a lot of today’s consumers are doing their best to protect the environment. And trying to solve environmental issues like global warming for example.
And they are doing that by monitoring and reducing energy usage, recycling waste, and changing practices to be more eco-friendly. Those consumers are willing to pay more cash for products that are Eco-friendly.
Now Eco-friendly brands are doing their part in this movement, by committing to environmental sustainability in all parts of their business processes.
The top Eco-friendly brands are becoming transparent about their sustainability processes, besides providing sustainable products and services.
They use recyclable and biodegradable packaging for their products and continuously innovate. They also present initiatives to maintain a sustainable approach in their business operations.
People that are adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle like you, tend to buy from brands that embrace their values and support them.
This means that those brands get more loyalty and repeat purchases from the same customers. But this is only if these brands truly reflect their brand messaging in their actual operations, and has a positive impact in the Eco-friendly world.
Not only that!
Eco-friendly brands’ expenses are much lower than the normal brands’ expenses. Because reducing energy usage, recycling, and other sustainability practices in general, eventually leads to overall cost reduction.
So, with willingness from customers to pay more for eco-friendly products, and the reduced cost of operating an eco-friendly business or brand, this means more profitability.
These brands also look for suppliers and partners who share the same values. And when this increases, you will find more companies trying to adopt this mindset. Or else they might go out of business. Which helps the environment both ways.
Let’s list some examples of stores and brands that support the environment.
A company recently owned by Amazon, A market that is specialized in organic and natural foods, maintaining the highest quality standards. And it is having a strong commitment to sustainable agriculture.
Of course, in organic farming, the company is following eco-friendly and sustainable strategies. Examples of this are crop rotation to naturally replenish the soil, and crop covering to protect and enrich the soil. They also adopt extra beneficial strategies, to avoid the use of any practices that harm the environment.
The company has strong environmental stewardship. They follow Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle methods in all their stores and offices.
An example of this stewardship is using recycled paper, composting, carpooling. Besides that, they avoid using single-use plastic bags since 2008. And they replaced plastic bags with affordable reusable grocery bags. Another example is the use of low-flow toilets.
They also follow a waste reduction strategy that mirrors the EPA’s food recovery hierarchy. And they utilize alternatives energy sources like solar energy.
Apple has not been an eco-friendly brand for a long time. However, it started to take steps to show the world that the company cares about the environment.
In the new products like iPhone 11 and the new MacBook Air, the enclosure is made from 100% recycled aluminum. Also, the materials inside the devices are recycled. Even the wood fiber in their product packaging comes from recycled sources.
Apple also claims that its products now are more efficient. Because their energy consumption has decreased by about 70% since 2008.
Nobody ignores the fact that Amazon is the biggest online marketplace in the world. However, Amazon still wants to show the world that they are committed to a sustainable future. And this is not only in the marketplace but across all Amazon operations and services like Amazon Web Services.
In 2019, Amazon announced the climate pledge, which is a commitment to meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early.
They want to achieve 100% net zero carbon by 2040, 80% renewable energy by 2024, and 100% by 2030. And they commit to reaching 50% shipments net-zero by 2030.
They are redesigning packages to reduce waste. And they are committed to engaging with suppliers who provide safe workplaces. And help to provide a sustainable future for the next generations.
They created a specific section on their website called the sustainability hub, where you can find more info about their efforts.
This is a shoe company with a strong commitment to protecting the environment. They commit over the next 5 years to expand their use of sustainable cotton, and to source 100% sustainable cotton by 2024.
Also, they commit to continuing to source all their packaging material from sustainably managed forests. They also work to reduce waste and energy use and expand their use of eco-friendly material and processes in their products.
They consider a product earth-friendly, only if at least one of its main components contain eco-friendly material.
The company is B Corp certified. Which means they meet the highest standards in environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.
The source 100% of their leather from GOLD and SILVER rated LWG leather manufacturers. LWG stands for The Leather Working Group. Which certifies leather manufacturers based on eco-friendly areas such as waste, air emissions, water, and energy use.
Now, it is time to provide you with some tools and solutions, to help you achieve what you have learned in this guide.
Below I am showing you some Eco-friendly products with their descriptions, pros, and cons, and some tips on how to best use them.
Glass Container with Lid
Glass food containers with BPA-Free locking heads. This product can be used in the freezer and the oven as well, and it is an eco-friendly alternative to plastic food containers.
- Useful to preserve and store fresh food. It can also be used to store prepared food, and heat it in the microwave.
- Reduces food waste.
- Makes it easier to organize food in the freezer or fridge.
- Some complaints about glass getting broken with heat.
- Glass normally is breakable.
- Some low-quality items may have the lid fall apart and leak liquids.
This product serves multiple Eco-friendly purposes. You can use it to store food leftovers and help reducing food waste. It is made of glass, not plastic. Which helps reduce plastic waste. Improves environmental sustainability. And a healthy food storage alternative.
You can use it as well with home-prepared meals, which are healthier, and store them in the fridge. When the meal time comes, just heat it in the microwave and stay safe and healthy while you are protecting the environment.
A box or a container for prepared meals, it has slots inside for different types of meal items. The container has a lid to save the food and prevent leaks.
- Useful to prepare meals at home and take to work or school.
- This product organizes food and saves space.
- Helps to avoid using disposable plastic meal containers or throwing away leftovers.
- Some low-quality items leak liquids.
- Sizes are different, so make sure you know the size well, or you will end up with a very small bento box that doesn’t fit your regular meal.
- The lid may fall apart in low-quality items.
Using a bento box to take out meals you prepared at home, from healthy and organic ingredients, is not just a reason to make you stay in shape and avoid junk food. You are doing a great job also protecting the environment, and you do this by avoiding plastic containers altogether.
It is reusable, easy to clean, and durable. In other words, sustainable. Just make sure to choose the size that fits your regular meal, and has enough dividers and separators to enjoy a nice variety of healthy food.
Beeswax Wrap – Food Wrap
- Made of 100% natural and eco-friendly materials, and helps in preventing food from touching plastics or other toxic materials.
- The wraps have beautiful and cheerful designs and drawings, and different sizes in the same package.
- Easy to use and clean.
- Some complaints that beeswax wraps stick to other materials that touch it. And other low-quality items don’t stick at all. You should choose carefully.
- Some bad manufacturers may mix the wraps with unnatural chemicals.
- Not very durable and wears out with time.
If you like eating sandwiches and any type of food that is used to be wrapped in plastic, you can use this instead. This eco-friendly solution is an amazing healthy alternative. Every ingredient this product is relying on is natural and organic.
You can wrap cheese, bread, sandwiches. And you can also cover cups or bowels. Besides that, it is reusable, and you don’t have to throw it away after use like plastic or paper wraps.
After many uses, if you find the material getting unusable because it reaches the end of its useful life, you can easily cut it in small pieces and compost it. Simple as that!
Palm Leaf Plates
Eco-friendly and healthy plates made from palm leaves. Can be used for events and camping instead of disposable plastic plates. They are compostable and biodegradable, so they save the environment.
- They are disposable and eco-friendly at the same time. Can be used once in events without the need to wash and waste water.
- Can be used in oven and microwave to heat leftovers.
- Healthy and eco-friendly replacement for disposable plastic and paper plates.
- Low-quality items get damaged easily.
- Some complaints that a bad storage condition causes the plates to rotten.
- Some complaints that some plates are too thin and weak.
Who doesn’t feel guilty after collecting a huge pile of trash that consists of plastic plates?
Whether you are camping or having a BBQ, you need to put your food on some type of disposable plates. And this is to avoid having a huge pile of dishes that you need to wash if they are still not crashed.
This product is a great solution to this issue. A solution made naturally from palm leaves, that can be safely used, then composted after use without harming the environment.
You can even use the palm leave plates in the microwave if you need to heat leftovers or cold food. And it is not just easy to dispose of by composting, it is also washable and reusable.
Eco-Friendly and Biodegradable Takeout Containers
Takeout food containers made of Sugar cane fibers that are biodegradable, and 100% compostable. So this product is a very good eco-friendly solution and alternative to the current takeout plastic food containers.
- Very useful in storing and moving prepared meals as in takeout or food leftovers.
- Eco-friendly and easily degradable after use.
- Microwaveable and suitable for delivering hot and cold food.
- Complaints because it quickly dissolves after touching liquids.
- A few low-quality items leak liquids as well.
- Some complaints that material is weak and expecting it to be thicker.
Similar to the Glass Containers and the Bento Box, this solution stores food. However, the glass containers and the bento box are not always feasible solutions.
If you own a restaurant or a shop that prepares meals. Or if you prefer to prepare your own meals but don’t want to carry a box around after finishing them, then you can’t use a glass container or a bento box. Even if they are sustainable and eco-friendly.
The alternative is to use compostable food containers made from sugar cane fibers. You can still use disposable material when you have to and still enjoy an eco-friendly lifestyle. Also, you can use these sugar cane containers in the microwave, to heat cold food or leftovers.
Disposable Wooden Cutlery
Eco-Friendly, disposable, compostable, and biodegradable wooden cutlery. This is also a good replacement for disposable plastic cutlery normally used in events and gatherings.
- Eco-friendly replacement for plastic spoons and knives.
- Easy to compost after use.
- Can be used as fire starters.
- Some complaints that they have splinters even before use.
- A few complaints about taste or sensation. However, people who complain compare it to silverware which is not logical.
- Not sharp enough. However, I believe wooden and plastic knives are normally not sharp enough.
I have provided you with multiple eco-friendly solutions related to food. However, there was a missing component. You normally need a knife, a fork, and a spoon to eat a regular meal. So if you have a food container of any type or a palm leaf plate, you will enjoy complimenting them with some kind of eco-friendly cutlery. And here comes the disposable wooden cutlery solution.
Disposable wooden cutlery can be used for events and camping, and are perfect for cafes and restaurants. They are a great alternative to the plastic cutlery we are used to. They are made from natural and non-toxic material and are 100% compostable and biodegradable.
So, now you don’t need to use unhealthy plastic spoons that taste bad with hot food like soup. And you don’t have to throw away after use causing more plastic waste in our beautiful ocean. Just use this wooden cutlery, and you will contribute to the efforts made to protect the environment.
Kitchen Canvas Tote
An eco-friendly cotton bag to carry and store food and grocery.
- Made from natural cotton material and eco-friendly. It is a good and affordable replacement for plastic grocery bags.
- Easy to print store names and other marketing material on it. So it is an “eco-friendly” commercial solution as well.
- Can be used with gifts and promotions.
- Complaints that the materials shrink and weaken after multiple washes.
- Some items are very small in size, so you should consider the required size before ordering.
- A few low-quality items get torn with usage.
As an eco-conscious person, you normally feel bad when you use plastic bags while grocery shopping. Even if you reuse them as trash bags in your home, you know exactly (and especially after reading this guide) where those plastic bags will end up being after disposal. I hear you thinking about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Yes, you are right!
Replacing plastic grocery bags with these natural and eco-friendly canvas tote bags is a no-brainer. You can use them to collect and carry your grocery, wash them, then reuse them many times. They can be even used by stores and supermarkets instead of the plastic bags, and they can also print their brand names or logos on them.
And not only that, after they reach their end of useful life, you can compost them easily!
Wow! You’ve reached this far. Now let me first congratulate you for your dedication, and commitment, to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle. But, I know it was a long read, and we have to recap.
Eco-friendly as a term has been “unfortunately” overused. You need to make sure any brand you deal with, is using them ethically. And avoid falling for any false claims.
Not just because you don’t need to pay more for a product. And this product ends up being unhealthy to you and your family, and harmful to the environment. But also because the environmental movement has deep roots in history. And so many people fought so you can follow it, and for me to write about it in 2020.
Starting with the industrial revolution. And going through the 19th and 20th centuries, with all their incidents that are harmful to our environment. Those incidents were caused by us, because the environment was designed to be sustainable. But we don’t allow it to do so.
Eco-friendly defines products and actions that are not harmful to the environment. And sustainable as a term goes deeper. It is making sure products and practices are sustaining the environmental resources, for future generations.
We also normally try to have a zero-waste living as much as possible. And we do this while we are doing our best to be eco-friendly, and following sustainability practices.
It can always be fixed!
Coronavirus quarantine has shown us that environmental issues can be fixed if we just stop making things worse. If we simply just stay at home.
Climate is changing in a rapid fashion, which increases the severity of environmental activities like global warming and hurricanes. Oceans are getting filled with waste materials like plastic that doesn’t degrade easily, which also increased global warming. And tons of food are getting wasted globally on a yearly basis. Which wastes a lot of resources consumed producing these tons of food.
However, lots of actions are being taken to try to follow suitability practices. And they are taken to help the environment fix itself and correct course. Some examples are in agriculture, forestry, construction, water and energy consumption, and waste management.
You have learned in this guide that you also can take action, and change your habits. And this will allow you to be part of environmental protection and sustainability supporters.
Do you need a quick reminder? Ok, no problem.
This can start by reducing your purchases, reusing what you already have, and recycling what you can’t use anymore.
Regarding food. You can do some actions that will help you reduce food waste. And you will get the most benefits out of it while doing so.
Also, energy is an essential resource we need in our everyday life. You can efficiently consume it. First by buying certified products that follow Energy Star program guidelines. This helps so much along with the tips discussed in the energy tips section.
When it comes to the scarcity of water, we panic. Sure, because it is a natural resource that we can’t live without, and that’s not replaceable. But we keep wasting and polluting water all day long. However, this can be solved as well, easily, if you follow some of the tips in this guide.
We are changing our behaviors, and mindsets, so we can get used to being eco-friendly. While we are doing so, we need to look forward to big brands that are already doing it and support them.
Because they don’t only try to protect the environment and ensure a sustainable future. They also motivate us to stay on track and know that we are not alone in this. Whole Foods Market, Apple, and Amazon are big names, and they encourage others to follow their lead.
Don’t forget this. In order to be able to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle, you don’t just need to change habits. You need as well to change the products and solutions you rely on, in your life.
That’s why I showed you some solutions with their main pros and cons. Also, I provided quick tips that should help you best apply these solutions. And you can do that by utilizing any of the eco-friendly products mentioned in the guide.
I wrote this guide to help you live an eco-friendly life, and stay enjoying it. And you can do this without making things difficult or complicated.
And I will keep updating the guide regularly so that it stays up to date. Of course, I will consider your comments, recommendations, and corrections if any.
We are all in this together, and I am open to any feedback. Enjoy your Eco-Friendly Lifestyle!