There are environmental issues associated with the design and production of goods that relate to resource use (including land, water, energy and mineral extraction), hazardous and/or toxic ingredients, production waste and post-consumer waste.
What factors make something eco-friendly?
There are a number of factors in the design and production of eco-friendly goods outlined below. By choosing goods which incorporate some, if not all, of these factors you will reduce your ecological footprint and any potential harm goods can create.
A more sustainable product will use less raw materials, which is also known as having less material intensity. This may be achieved through better design, substitution of materials with better properties, or with better production processes. This also includes the packaging.
Low carbon footprint
The energy intensity of any type of product includes the energy used in the sourcing of raw materials, in the production process, and in distribution and sale. It also includes the energy required in its ongoing use and ultimate disposal.
Also known as service intensity, this is talking about how well a product or service performs its function. A product that doesn’t work properly is a waste because it is likely to be discarded. You will look after and keep a product that is effective and a pleasure to use.
A toxic substance is one that may be harmful to the environment and/or human health. Although some toxins occur naturally, e.g. heavy metals, human activities have created dangerous levels of synthetic toxins. Products should be made from substances that are either natural and/or harmless.
Recycled material reduces the demand for raw materials. For every tonne of waste thrown away, is estimated that an extra 20 tonnes of waste is created at the point where the raw material is extracted. Substantial energy savings can also be made by using recycled materials.
Maximum renewable content
The less material we extract from the earth’s crust the better. Also, the less synthetic material we create the better. Renewable, organic materials generally need less energy in their processing, they sequester carbon and in their natural state they are harmless to the environment.
Durability and quality
The longer a product lasts the better. Disposable or poor quality products should be avoided. Goods that are well made in order to last will be useful, dependable, easy to maintain, and a joy to use.