Whether you are in the grocery store or browsing online you are constantly hit with a borage of labels. Eco-friendly, sustainable, earth friendly, vegan, cruelty-free, and zero waste. What do these labels really mean!!?? Aren't they all sort of the same? Unfortunately all of these labels have different meanings. So lets take a gander as some of the common words or labels you might see.
Eco-Friendly, Earth Friendly Vs. Sustainable.
Eco-Friendly/ Earth Friendly's definition is anything not harmful to the environment, while sustainability means you can maintain without the depletion of natural resources. These definitions are both board but underline the same concept. If a brand is labeling their products as Eco-friendly or sustainable they are utilizing or creating products that are recycled, taking from a renewable source, promotes reuse-ability, or it's being manufactured using renewable energy and most if not all products will be considered non-toxic. Again pretty board, but with the Eco-Friendly movement building, no true definition has been maintained for a sustainable or Eco-friendly brand. Some companies are certifying their eco-friendly practices with programs like Green Guard Certified, and there are many other official labels you can see here. The good news is, there is a lot of ways to become more environmentally friendly.
Eco-Friendly Vs. Vegan
These two are not one in the same. Eco-friendly does not mean vegan, many leather industries will use all natural products like bark to tan their leathers. And only source their leather from organic cows treated humanely. Vegan also doesn't mean it is Eco-Friendly. Many vinyl materials are highly toxic with PVC and oil as their main ingredients. If you are looking for a product that is vegan and Eco-Friendly, look for polyurethane faux leather, pinatex (leather made from pineapple leaves) mushroom leather, or cork.
Vegan Vs. Cruelty Free
This one can actually be tricky. Though you would think that vegan would also include cruelty free it does not. Vegan in it's basic form means no animal ingredients. In terms of beauty and house-hold products, this can still mean it might have been tested on animals. Cruelty Free doesn't mean it's vegan either. This simply means the product was not tested on animals. Make sure to look for the cruelty free label and read the ingredients in the product.
Biodegradable Vs Compost
Biodegradable means the product will break down in a number of years. Plastic takes 1,000 years to decompose but eventually it will. In most instances you will not see a product that has such a long shelf life as a biodegradable product. A product that compost friendly will break down in a matter of months, will add nutrients to the soil, and will not release harmful chemicals into the environment.
When in doubt, ask. Sending a simple email or calling them to confirm that a product is vegan, cruelty free, or eco-friendly will give you a much better peace of mind then playing a guessing game with the labels. I hope this guide will help you towards making the best decision choosing products for your lifestyle!