You recycle, you buy eco-friendly, you eat organic, you live green and you feel good about yourself.
What does it all mean?
As a society we’re lured with marketing agendas to buy into concepts that bombard us with new terminology that we want to use and a movement that we want to be a part of. We get fooled into thinking we’re making a difference but we’re just being sold another product with a buzzword tag.
Why is terminology so important?
If you went around today thinking that a sandwich was called a stapler, you’d end up with an interesting lunch. Obviously I’m pushing it but the idea is knowing what you’re getting because everyone will call a sandwich, a sandwich.
Looking through the aisles of your go-to stores, you may find an abundance of terms that make you feel like the company is being eco-responsible, whatever that means.
For example, what is natural? This is a big category that as far as I’m concerned encompasses just about everything, maybe excluding some man made elements, maybe. Does natural mean found in nature? Is it extracted from nature? From nature without any modification? Made by animals? Humans are animals; is what we make natural? Your guess is as good as mine.
Eco-friendly, environmentally friendly, and green are only a few of the ways we say good for Earth. These terms can mean no harm to the environment or just reduced or minimal harm. Clearly this is a vague term and its use might only mean there’s something worse out there not that it’s actually good. I guess you can be proud of your purchase since it’s not the worst option.
I won’t even touch the term organic but I’ll let you try to find what standards that the industry universally uses and what it really means.
This next one is something that I really enjoy as a chemist: chemical-free!
If you get anything from this article I hope, it’s this: everything is made up of chemicals, even you! Everything you eat, drink, wear, etc. All chemicals, all of the time.
Some are good, some are bad, just never believe that it’s chemical-free.
Did you know there’s a difference between biodegradable and compostable?
Biodegradable can mean that it breaks down to tiny particles in some biological fashion while composting can mean that it returns to a useful form for the earth.
I understand it is difficult to define these specific terms and that they do change but it has definitely become necessary. Even having a government organization that clearly and easily keeps track of what is defined and how, while also keeping a lit of non-defined terms would be helpful for the average person as myself just trying to understand.
I’m not saying that recycling, being eco-friendly, eating organic, or living green are bad things. I’m saying, stop and think. Are you actually accomplishing something or just being trendy?
The right words could start the right conversation.
Thomas Di Nardo
Remember, you’re made of all kinds of wonderful chemicals.