Eco-Friendly or Eco or Green – Term generally used to describe any product, process, or person that helps save energy, eliminate waste, or helps prevent harm to people or the planet. . Green marketing is the marketing of products that are supposed to be environmentally safe.
Biodegradable – Product containing material that will naturally dissolve or disintegrate when exposed to weather elements or when placed in landfill/composting conditions. Usually this term refers to materials that either do this naturally or are enhanced to degrade within a short period of time (could be less than 5 or 10 years in some cases). Biodegradable products are typically made from plant or animal matter.
Degradable – Product that will disintegrate when exposed to elements (rain, sunlight, etc.) or when deposited into landfills. While all materials are degradable given time (hundreds or thousands or years for some plastics), this term refers to materials that either do this naturally or are enhanced to degrade within a short period of time (could be less than 5 or 10 years in some cases).
Fair Trade – A method of doing business that seeks to pay fair prices/wages and benefits for products and services, provide safe and healthy working and living conditions, insists on accountability, and promotes environmental responsibility. This is of particular concern in developing nations which have suffered exploitation. Fair trade policies prohibit the use of child, forced, or prison labor in the manufacture of goods.
Natural – Material or product derived from a plant or animal source. May or may not be organic.. “Natural” is not a term that defines a product as eco-friendly; it could be just the opposite. Some natural cotton grown, harvested, and processed can be one of the least eco friendly choices should they use heavy pesticides.
Organic – Material or product from a plant or animal source using organic methods. Organic methods do not use chemical herbicides, pesticides. They may use energy and water saving equipment and processes. Organic products are typically certified to verify that organic methods were used in manufacture.
Recyclable – Product or material that can be melted, shredded, disassembled, or otherwise broken down and remanufactured for use in another product. These can include glass, plastic, fabric, wood, metals, and paper. Plastics are usually rated with a recycling symbol to indicate chemical composition and/or recyclability. Helps divert volume of waste going into landfills.
Recycled, Pre-Consumer- Product made from waste material resulting from manufacturing processes that has not yet been used or consumed by an end user.
Recycled, Post-Consumer – Product made from waste material that has been used at least once by an end user. Generally, the higher the post-consumer content, the greener it is since it helps to lessen the use of landfills.
Renewable or Sustainable– Is generally a product, material, or energy source that can be easily replenished, with low or no environmental damage or cost, when depleted.
Reusable – A product that can be used more than once. The more times it can be used, the longer it takes to make its way to a landfill. This is the minimum that a product needs to be to be classified as eco-friendly.
Sustainable – Similar to renewable. Usually refers to products or materials that are easily replenished, with low or no environmental damage or cost, when depleted.
Third Party Verification – Government and non-government organizations can provide certification that a specific methodology or policy was adhered to during the manufacture of a specific product. Labor policies and organic farming methods are two areas that can be verified