Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Eco-products: What makes a product green?

Do you ever find yourself wondering whether a product is 'green' or not? Do you ever think you're being conned by 'green wash'? Fear not, here's a very simple guide, or the start of one anyway.

Basically there are two different ways a product can be green:

1. It requires/uses less stuff*.
Examples: energy efficient light bulbs, hybrid cars, lightweight packaging etc.

2. It is made of/uses 'better' stuff.
Examples: biodiesel, bioplastics, products made from recycled materials, non-toxic materials etc.

plus, there's a third possibility that's not strictly a 'product'.

3. You buy the service the product gives you, not the physical product.
Examples: video, DVD and book libraries, car clubs, on-line newspapers, e-books, MP3s etc

In my opinion, the changes required to address global environmental problems are so large, there is no point in sweating over details - a green product is either much better than the standard version, or it shouldn't be described as green.

I'll be picking up on these three approaches individually in future posts.

* "Stuff" is a highly technical term covering materials and energy


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