Confused Between Eco-Friendly, Sustainable, Natural? Here’s What the Terms Mean

Confused Between Eco-Friendly, Sustainable, Natural? Here’s What the Terms Mean

A sustainable lifestyle is all about being responsible & conscious of your choice. Let’s begin the journey with understanding the different terms associated with it

Eco-friendly, organic, sustainability, green, recycled and non-toxic—you have certainly come across these terms when reading about planet-friendly products, practices or brands.

But do you know that they are not always interchangeable?

If you were ever confused about the claims made by companies or want to be better informed, keep the information below, handy.

Going Green, Being Eco-friendly or Following Sustainability?

sustainability eco-friendly difference

Today, an increasing number of products, as well as people, are “going green” in a pursuit to do their bit for the earth.

But what does this mean?

Well, the phrase is a euphemism for someone who possesses adequate knowledge, experience or expertise to choose products, adopt practises and follow a lifestyle that has minimal adverse effects on the environment.

One example of a green practice is to replacing commercial cleaners with bio-enzyme cleaners at home. Smitha Kamath makes these green cleaners, packs them in used plastic bottles for sale. You can check out her products here.

sustainability eco-friendly difference

Eco-friendly is a term that literally translates to being environmentally friendly. These are products that don’t harm the planet, use any plastic, are biodegradable and make use of minimum resources to be manufactured.

Often, green and eco-friendly are used interchangeably.

Sustainability goes a step ahead. A sustainable product or practice is not just green or eco-friendly but also conscious about the future. In addition to being eco-friendly, such products can be reused over a long period of time, eliminating the need to purchase new products frequently. Carrying a glass or steel bottle everywhere instead of purchasing a mineral water bottle is a classic example of sustainability.

Want to live a planet-friendly, sustainable lifestyle? Here’s a range of products that will reduce the plastic in your life!

Recycling Vs Upcycling Vs Downcycling

waste recycling brands

Often misunderstood, recycling, upcycling and downcycling do not mean the same thing.

While upcycling and downcycling are offshoots of recycling, a process where the product material is reused to make a different, useful product. When the original product is recycled to make another of lesser value, the process is called downcycling.

For instance, if papers from a notebook are recycled to make toilet paper, it is downcycled. If a plastic bottle is scrapped and made into another plastic bottle, it is recycled.

Upcycling is the process of reusing an existing “waste” item to make one of higher value. It goes “up” the cycle. Making flower pots or bird feeds from empty plastic bottles is an example of this process.

Incorporate more upcycled, recycled products in your home to make it a sustainable living place. Click here for a variety of your favourite upcycled lifestyle products.

Are your products chemical-free, organic or natural?

sustainability eco-friendly difference

Consider a bio-enzyme made at home with food waste. You did not add any synthetic chemicals to it. Does that make the eco-friendly cleaner chemical-free? No, because the citric acid, jaggery and water together produce organic chemicals that act as cleansing agents. So although the bio-cleaner contains no man-made elements, it is still not chemical-free. It is natural.

When you use the word organic, it means that no synthetic chemicals were used right from the first step of production.

For example, if your juice claims to be organic, its manufacturing process—right from the fruit that is plucked—should be completely free of chemical additives. The term organic is usually used for food and beverages.

Chemical-free, on the other hand, is reserved for personal care products, home improvement items, dyes and colours. It means that no synthetic chemicals were added in the production of the final item.

Eat healthy, eat chemical-free. Here’s a range of organic foods to kickstart your journey towards good health!

What does it mean for products to be clean, non-toxic or ethical?

Honey for workout

Clean and non-toxic are very closely related terms. In the Indian context, a “clean” product contains non-synthetic ingredients that are not harmful to your skin or health. Non-toxic products are those that may contain synthetic ingredients, but they are not harmful to you or the environment.

When a product is labelled as ‘ethical,’ it goes a step ahead and assures you of ingredients that are non-toxic as well as free from practices like animal testing, child labour and promise free trade.

Ready to contribute to free trade practices? Check out our range of ethical products by clicking on this link.


You may also like: 10 Trailblazing Brands That Turn Waste Into the Lifestyle Products You Love!


(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

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