Buttoned Up Expert: What Is Green?

What Is Green?

by Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, www.ecostiletto.com

“Green” isn’t a label or a certification; it’s a state of mind that, to us at EcoStiletto.com, means the product is created through environmentally and socially conscious means. When it comes to “organic” and “natural,” however, it’s all about the label, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “100 Percent Organic” means that every single ingredient in the product is organically grown: No pesticides, antibiotics, chemical fertilizers, bio-engineered, synthetic growth hormones or irradiated ingredients.

“Certified Organic” products contain at least 95 percent organically grown ingredients. And “Eco Cert” also contain at least 95 percent, as certified by an independent European agency, not the USDA. While we’re at it, “vegan” products are not animal tested and contain no animal ingredients such as honey or milk, but they aren’t “organic” unless they say so.

And “natural” is totally unregulated: It can mean that a product contains plant-derived ingredients and is cruelty- and preservative-free, but because “natural” is simply a descriptive, it could also mean the manufacturer just threw it on the label to make a sale. At EcoStiletto, we prefer organic products. But if something is truly fabulous and doesn’t fit the USDA bill we might still feature it, but we won’t ever pretend it’s organic when it’s not. That’s just plain mean, and certainly not green.

What’s the ideal green product?

Something that’s created in keeping with the “cradle to cradle” philosophy. This is the concept that when you throw something away there really is no “away.” Huh? Bear with us; here’s how it works: Because the Earth is a contained system, nothing that we create can really, truly be disposed of; it just becomes waste if it can’t be reused. “Cradle-to-cradle” challenges manufacturers to make products in a way that they can perpetually be reused or repurposed, therefore creating new “cradles” each time we find a new use.

This is an extremely poor paraphrasing of the 2002 book by William McDonough and Michael Braungart; if you really want to know what it’s all about, read Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, which you can buy used (hence, a new cradle) at Amazon. Look for the cradle-to-cradle seal on products that are produced according to the highest of green standards that make as little impact on the Earth as possible, and know you’re keeping your carbon footprint stiletto-sized!

Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff is the founder and editor of eco-fashion, beauty and lifestyle website EcoStiletto.com [link], where you can win $100 in sustainable swag each week!