Have you ever found yourself liking a product more because it says that it’s recyclable or biodegradable, without actually knowing what it means? Sometimes product descriptions get confusing because they are full of “green” buzzwords to attract you. Well, from now on we are going to get to know the different words, so that you can make the right choice when you pick up a new product.
Eco/environmentally-friendly is a loose term for something that’s not harmful to the environment. It is not a protected title. If you are curios about what is eco/environmentally friendly about the product, use your consumer power and ask the producer or retailer.
Organic is a term used for food and products that have been made without artificial chemicals such as pesticides. There are various control organs such as Debio, Ecocert, and USDA Organic that certify products, and you will find their certification stamp on the product. This is a protected title.
Sustainability has been defined many different ways by different people. Something is said to be sustainable if it can continue over a period of time, causing little or no damage to the environment (1).
Sustainable development was defined by Norway’s first female prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland as “(…) development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”(2).
If something is biodegradable, it can be degraded by microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria after a certain amount of years. The object will be entirely or partially converted to water, carbon dioxide, methane, energy, and new biomass (3). Some types of plastics can biodegrade, but what may come as a surprise is that plastic that is marked as biodegradable (cups, take away containers, bags) may only degrade when they are exposed to over 50 degrees for a long period of time (!). This will definitely not happen if it ends up in the ocean (4).
“Some types of plastics can biodegrade, but what may come as a surprise is that plastic that is marked as biodegradable (cups, take away containers, bags) may only degrade when they are exposed to over 50 degrees for a long period of time (!). This will definitely not happen if it ends up in the ocean.”
Compostable products are those that either will break down in a home compost or in an industrial compost system. These products are therefore also biodegradable, but the difference is that the compostable contain valuable nutrients for the soil – such as food waste. In Norway, the compost turns into valuable biofuel for the garbage trucks and the Ruter buses, so don’t forget to compost.
Products that are recyclable can be turned into something new.
Vegan refers to either a person who does not eat or use any animal products or a product/food that does not contain animal products. AKA a no-go to leather, fur, honey, milk, meat, or other things that belong to the animal kingdom.
A person is vegetarian if they don’t eat meat or fish. Vegetarians usually do eat eggs and other dairy products.
Leave a comment if there are more definitions that should be included!