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How to Identify Eco-Friendly Products

You want to help the environment, but how do you identify “green” products outside a health food store? Here’s how.


  • Step 1: Start with packaging Look for products with the least amount of packaging, and try to buy ones that indicate that they are packaged with 'biodegradable' or 'recycled' material.
  • TIP: Whenever possible, buy in bulk to cut down further on packaging.
  • Step 2: Know your chemicals Have a basic understanding of what chemicals are bad for the environment. Major no-no’s include nonylphenol ethoxylates (or NPEs, which are detrimental to aquatic life), phosphates, petroleum-based cleaners, and chlorine.
  • TIP: If you had trouble with the periodic table in high school, it might be easier just to look for the Green Seal.
  • Step 3: Choose organic Anything labeled 'organic' is going to be eco-friendly. It’s probably going to cost more, too, but that’s the trade-off for a cleaner environment.
  • Step 4: Make the efficient choice When it comes to appliances or windows, look for the Energy Star label, which indicates that the product is energy efficient.
  • Step 5: Be PC with PVC Save some trees by looking for flooring and furniture made from a recycled plastic material called cellular PVC lumber.
  • Step 6: Buy recycled paper goods Look for 'recycled' when you buy tissues, paper towels, gift wrap, greeting cards, and computer paper.
  • TIP: Better still, use handkerchiefs and washable cleaning cloths, wrap gifts in old newspapers (cartoon pages are great for kids), and send e-cards.
  • Step 7: Look for bamboo Look for bamboo when buying everything from flooring to furniture to paper to clothing. It’s the fastest-growing plant on the planet, with some varieties growing four feet a day.
  • FACT: SUVs emit three times more pollution than regular cars.

You Will Need

  • To be willing to spend a bit more

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