Leading a “green” lifestyle is a growing trend among the global community. In a recent Nielsen survey, fifty-five percent of consumers who shop online and represent 60-plus countries indicated that they would pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Over the years, advances in the field of green technology have significantly contributed to the availability of such eco-friendly options.
What is Green technology?
A continually evolving field, green technology represents the marriage of technological innovation to practices that benefit both the environment and society. Members hope that one day the movement will have an impact on daily life similar to that of the information-technology boom.
Basic Tenets of Green Technology
Sustainability: Sustainability is the practice of utilizing renewable resources to meet the needs of society for an indefinite period, rather than a finite time. Developing and using alternative sources of energy, such as solar, wind, and biofuel, is an example of a sustainable practice.
"Cradle-to-cradle" design: The opposite of “cradle to grave” practices, cradle-to- cradle design aims to create products that are reusable and fully recyclable without having to send anything to a landfill. Cradle-to-cradle is integral to the green building movement, and those seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification can receive credits for “disclosing and optimizing where building materials are sourced and purchased.”
Source reduction: This refers to when companies reduce the energy, pollution, and resources necessary for manufacturing products. The government sometimes supports source reduction through environmentally preferred purchasing, which is the practice of mandating that government entities only buy products whose “contents and methods of production have the smallest possible impact on the environment.”
Innovation: When technologies like fossil fuels or agricultural pesticides prove detrimental to human health and the environment, proponents of green technology seek alternatives through innovation. Green chemistry, the design and application of products with fewer or nontoxic ingredients, is an example of innovation.
Challenges to Supporting Green Technology
Green technology promotes manufacturing practices that use less energy, fewer toxins, and sustainable resources. Consumers can benefit by having access to environmentally friendly and socially conscious foods, cleaning agents, cars, and even homes. However, green technology needs support to thrive, and some unscrupulous companies are thwarting consumers’ efforts to make green purchases. It is not uncommon for cleaners with the words “safe,” “nontoxic,” and “green” on their labels to contain hazardous ingredients. No laws exist to prohibit companies from twisting the truth and exposing unwitting consumers to dangerous ingredients. Some of the chemicals found in popular green cleaners can damage red blood cells, irritate the eyes, or, worse, cause fatal or permanent damage.
Tips for Finding Truly Green Products
One way that consumers can identify the products of green technology is by analyzing companies’ claims. Marketers highlight the best attributes of a product, but it falls on consumers to ferret out the negatives. For example, a hybrid vehicle that only gets 20 MPG is not a green product even though the word hybrid implies green innovation. It may be a hybrid by mechanical definition but not by the environmental one.
Consumers can also look at awards and certifications issued by reputable green organizations to validate the claims a company makes. For example, the new green cleaning product MastiClean developed by startup company Green Way Labs hold several certifications that suggest it is a truly green product. MastiClean is not only registered with the National Sanitation Foundation, but it also holds C-1 and E-4 approval. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), the European organization tasked with evaluating the chemicals in products, have both approved the active ingredients that power MastiClean as a safe choice for consumers. Moreover, the South Coast Air Quality Management District has certified the product as a Clean Air Choice Cleaner.
Commitment to Green Technology
Individuals around the world have expressed their commitment to living more eco-friendly lifestyles. Supporting the green technology movement will help ensure this way of living continues to be possible, and it starts with purchasing truly green products. With a little extra effort, customers can make sure their money is going to companies whose practices align with their values—not ones that only purport that they do.