Q: What exactly makes a house product green?
How do I know if I am using a green product or not? What makes a product green? Are there set standards or something?
Think holistically about your green choices. Beyond whether the product is made from recycled or renewable materials, consider where the product was made, how it was manufactured and what makes up its entire composition. Consider the impact on the environment during the manufacturing process, and even how the workers and surrounding community were treated during the entire “chain of custody” of the product.
Knowing the entire composition of the product, as well as the manufacturing process, is important. How green is the end product if a “recycled” or “renewable” material is combined with other toxic materials or the production process pollutes the natural environment, is dangerous for the workers or the product off-gases toxins into your home? Discovering this information is as important as reading the labels on the food products you buy.
What kind of quality control or oversight was present in the manufacturing process? And how about installation? Are the products and methods used to install the material sustainable as well?
What about the end of life of the product? Is it recyclable or will it ultimately end up in the landfill and stay there for generations?
The greenest products will be locally produced, preferably within 500 miles of your home. By “shopping local,” you can substantially reduce the carbon footprint inherent in transporting product from far away. Using locally produced products also supports the local economy and ensures the vibrancy and sustainability of the area in which you have chosen to live. There are abundant local options right here in our own backyard for some absolutely beautiful, sustainable materials.
Researching green products can take lots of time and effort, but there are some guidelines and help out there to make your job easier. Look for respected “eco-labels” or “third-party” certifications of products. An excellent online resource is http://www.greenerchoices.org/eco-labels/eco-good.cfm.
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