Goods and food often make up over 50% of an individual’s and home’s ecological footprint. There are also environmental issues associated with food and goods production relating to resource use (including land use, water use and mineral extraction), hazardous and/or toxic ingredients, production waste and post-consumer waste.
Making the right choice in goods can be difficult for a number of reasons. There are a number of design and production factors that can make one product more sustainable than another. The main ones are outlined below.
A more sustainable product will have less material intensity than a less sustainable product. This may be achieved through better design, substitution of materials with better properties, or better production processes. This also includes product 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.
Also known as ‘high service intensity’, this is talking about how well a product or service does its job.
A toxic substance means any chemical or mixture that may be harmful to the environment and to human health if inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through the skin. Some toxic substances occur naturally – like heavy metals – but human activities have created dangerous levels of them in the environment. Products should be made from substances that are either natural or are otherwise biodegradable and do not bio-accumulate.
In most cases much less energy is used to recycle, it creates less waste and mitigates the need for extraction of raw materials.
Maximum renewable content
The less material we extract from the earth’s crust the better. Materials that come from renewable sources (e.g. plants) are sustainable.
Durability and quality
The longer a product lasts the better. Disposable and bad quality products should be avoided! This obviously applies to manufactured goods.
This checklist of factors will help you make the right choice between ‘goods’ and ‘bads’. Making the right choices are crucial for your well-being and for the well-being of the planet. Read more»
Cleaning improves the performance and efficiency of most items and usually extends their life. Cleaning improves the healthiness of your home reducing a variety of health costs but making your home and clothes cleaner you may inadvertently pollute the air and water. Read more»