What is Eco-Friendly?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

The term “eco-friendly” is used to describe activities which are good for the environment. It is a shortening of “ecologically friendly,” and you may also hear terms like “environmentally friendly” or “green” used to describe similar activities. There are a range of ways in which activities can be eco or environmentally friendly, ranging from products which are constructed in an environmentally friendly way to making lifestyle changes which are designed to benefit the environment.

An eco-friendly lightbulb saves more energy than standard lightbulbs.
An eco-friendly lightbulb saves more energy than standard lightbulbs.

People engage in eco-friendly activities because they are concerned about the health of the environment. Environmental issues were first pushed to the forefront of the collective consciousness in the late 1900s, when people realized that their activities were having a negative impact on the environment. Pollution, rampant use of natural resources, and other activities were questioned in light of information about how these activities hurt the environment, and people began to look into more environmentally friendly ways of living and doing business.

Eco-friendly soaps can be made out of plant-based materials.
Eco-friendly soaps can be made out of plant-based materials.

Many savvy companies realized that investing in green product development would pay off, and lines of eco-friendly products can be found in many regions of the world today as a result. These products are usually made in factories which are environmentally friendly, such as facilities built from recycled materials which use solar panels for power, and they are made from components which are also good for the environment, like plant-sourced ingredients for soaps, or recycled metal for electronics. Product packaging, advertisements, and other materials may also be environmentally friendly.

Solar panels are eco-friendly.
Solar panels are eco-friendly.

Strictly speaking, eco-friendly products still have an impact on the environment, but the impact is greatly reduced when compared to conventionally produced products. In some cases, environmentally friendly products may even have a positive benefit, depending on how the company does business. Many such products are also aimed at lifestyle changes which benefit the environment, so even if the product itself is not totally neutral, the actions undertaken by the consumer after buying the product are beneficial. For example, eco-friendly light bulbs require energy and resources to make, but they save energy once they are installed in a home.

Recycling is beneficial for the environment.
Recycling is beneficial for the environment.

Products are not the only thing which can be environmentally friendly. Activities can also be friendly to the environment, as in the case of things like carpooling, gardening, composting, and recycling. Some people think that eco-friendly products are only the first step, and that people who are really committed to the environment also need to modify their lifestyles, reducing the amount of resources they use by living more efficiently.

Products made from recycled paper are eco-friendly.
Products made from recycled paper are eco-friendly.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon983599

Eco friendly products are products that do not harm the environment, whether in their production, use or disposal.

anon286749

Products are not the only thing which can be eco-friendly. Activities can also be friendly to the environment, as in the case of things like carpooling, gardening, composting, and recycling.

Some people think that eco-friendly products are only the first step, and that people who are really committed to the environment also need to modify their lifestyles, reducing the amount of resources they use by living more efficiently.

anon284369

I think we should all be more eco-friendly. Just doing little things like separating our trash and recycling is a good way to help the planet.

anon151444

I just try to avoid buying anything is contained in Styrofoam, use less plastic bags at the grocery store, and walk/bike as much as I can.

There's a company that showcases ordinary people doing green things to save and make money. It's pretty cool.

anon143667

Being Ecologically friendly means many things and one way of doing so is recycling, using less nonbiodegradable materials and shopping eco friendly sites or just looking up eco direct products is a great start. It also helps to read labels and find out if something truly is eco friendly.

anon109547

Most homes are not lacking in ways that may be healthier for family and friendly environment. On the one hand, the indoor air quality is a serious problem affecting millions of households. Studies show that indoor air can be more seriously polluted than outdoor air, even in the most industrialized cities.

ValleyFiah

@ Alchemy- The idea of the total ecological impact of a process, service, or good is studied more frequently. This relates to the sustainability of business, and some companies are becoming more concerned with this.

In some cases, becoming more ecologically sensitive helps the bottom line. Resources are becoming scarcer, so techniques and processes that conserve resources and promote efficiency are going to be more cost effective.

As you said, most companies will use their move to more sustainable practices as a marketing opportunity, but I do not believe that all companies use eco-friendly operations strictly as a marketing tool. However, like you, I would like to see a move to more regulation in the marketing of eco-friendly products.

Alchemy

Eco-friendly products are not always as good for the environment as they claim. The government has not established standards or laws that clearly define what constitutes an eco-friendly product or process. The term eco-friendly is often nothing more than a marketing ploy.

For example, a product that contains 50% recycled paper in the packaging could be considered eco-friendly, even though they were manufactured in dirty factories in China. In fact, most products labeled eco-friendly are manufactured or sourced overseas. Almost all of these overseas factories would fail to meet even our nation’s most lax pollution, clean water, and environmental safety regulations.

A consumer should evaluate the total ecological impact of a product to decide whether it is "eco-friendly".

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