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What is a Green Product?

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GoodGuide App BoxA product can be “green” in many ways. Environmental attributes, like the ones listed below, are those features of a product that make it preferable to purchase over others. The more green features the product has, the better!  However, a product does not need to possess all of the attributes below to be considered a good choice. Doing better in even one or two categories still makes a difference. Focus on the attributes that matter most to you.

Recycled Content

Buying products made with recycled materials save energy and resources, and keeps waste out of landfills. Recycled content products can be made with pre-consumer content, post-consumer content, or a mixture of both. Pre-consumer content utilizes materials from manufacturer’s scrap. Post-consumer content utilizes materials collected from recycling programs.

Less Hazardous

Avoiding products containing hazardous chemicals reduces potential serious health risks to people and damage to the environment. As a general rule, always try to use the least amount of a hazardous product. Minimize use of products with the following precautionary words such Caution, Danger, Warning or Poison. Effective alternative products may be available, especially when it comes to things like cleaning, maintaining a garden and personal care.

Conserves Energy

Reducing energy use is one of the simplest things we can do to curb impacts to the air we breathe and our environment. Energy production can contribute to emissions of carbon dioxide. Hydroelectric dams can degrade habitat and impede fish passage. By buying energy-efficient products, you will keep utility costs down and protect the environment. The federal Energy Star label helps buyers identify energy-efficient products.

Prevents Waste

Preventing waste can conserve natural resources. Our state generates millions of tons of municipal solid waste annually. You can prevent waste when you reduce the amount of material you buy to accomplish any task, buy repairable and re-usable items, and find multiple uses for items. Looking for items with little to no packaging also helps. Finally, products that allow us to do things more efficiently will sometimes, but not always, also reduce waste in the total process.

Air Quality Low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs):

Selecting products with low or no VOCs reduces indoor air quality hazards. This is important to everyone, but especially to the very young, the elderly, those with chronic lung conditions, and those with compromised immune systems. VOCs are chemicals that evaporate easily (volatilize) at room temperature and often have unhealthy and unpleasant vapors. They come from many products such as adhesives, carpeting, upholstery, paints, solvents, pesticides and cleaning products. Some VOCs may cause cancer, especially, when they are concentrated indoors. When VOCs hit sunlight it creates ozone, an air pollutant harmful to both people and plants.

Conserves Water

Choosing products and services that conserve water can save money on water and sewer bills, and will help us to adapt to the water challenges we will face from anticipated sea level rise. Less than one percent of the Earth’s water is available for human consumption. Dry spells and pollution remind us that our water supply can be threatened. EPA’s partnership program, Water Sense, helps buyers identify water-efficient products. In addition, products made with less water than traditional varieties can earn green certification.

End of Life Management

Considering the product's end of life issues when you buy can prevent costly disposal bills. Sometimes saving money up-front on a purchase results in spending more in the long term for proper disposal or injuries related to use of a product or disposal. It also encourages manufacturers to reduce their product's total environmental burden.

Reduced Packaging

Packaging is a large component of municipal solid waste landfills. A product’s packaging can account for a significant portion of the product’s contribution to municipal solid waste. EPA’s recommended approach to managing solid waste is to first reduce packaging of products, and second, recycle packaging materials.

Biodegradable or Compostable





A "biodegradable" product has the ability to break down, safely and relatively quickly, by biological means, into the raw materials of nature and disappear into the environment. These products can be solids biodegrading into the soil or liquids biodegrading into water. Biodegradable plastic is intended to break up when exposed to microorganisms (a natural ingredient such as cornstarch or vegetable oil is added to achieve this result). Biodegradable products also tend to be compostable, meaning that they can be mixed with organic matter and soil to create enrichers used for gardening and farming.

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