"Greenwashing" is a term that is used when a company tries to market a product or service as being sustainable ,when in reality it is not, simply to get consumers to purchase it. When you are striving for using the best practices in building green, you want to make sure that you truly are getting something that is sustainable not just in advertisements, but in reality. Here is a checklist to help you sort out fact from fiction when you are striving for building green in your projects.
The first question to ask is how the product is made. Does it require nonrenewable energy or lots of energy to produce? Is it made from nonrenewable resources such as petrochemicals? Did it come from a managed source with third-party certification of its practices? When you are buying green, the product should not be wasting natural resources or causing pollution. It is best for the product to be made of recycled, renewable or organic materials. Avoid products that contain chemicals that come from petroleum or other nonrenewable resources, and if you're unsure of what a certain chemical does or is, simply ask an expert.
Next, the location and transportation have to be considered. Was the product shipped in from overseas? Is it made of exotic materials? Or is it from local sources or locally produced? The closer the product is to you the better, because that means less fuel was needed to transport the product—which ultimately results in less waste and a smaller carbon footprint.
Examine the lifespan of the object. Is it designed to last for years? Is it durable to all kinds of use? Is there a good warranty on it to guarantee its quality? Buying something that is durable means that it is less likely to be thrown away, which means less waste.
Look into how the product will be disposed of at the end of its life. Can it be reused or recycled in any way? Is it biodegradable? Can it be deconstructed so parts can be recycled or reused? Can the product be returned in to the manufacturer at the end of its life? These are all good questions to consider so that less is thrown away and hazardous products are not used. EnviroCitizen.org suggests that you do the necessary research and even consider talking o a green building professional prior to beginning your project. It can save you and the Earth a lot of unnecessary trouble!