This lesson encourages students to explore what it means for a product to be "eco-friendly." Although students will create their own definitions, eco-friendly is generally understood to mean produced in a way that minimizes harm to the environment. Virtually no product can be made with zero impact to Earth, but eco-friendly products are those whose impacts are lessened when compared with traditional products.
Eco-friendly products can make a difference by:
- Conserving natural resources
- Increasing energy efficiency
- Minimizing pollution
- Minimizing the use of toxic chemicals that affect workers' health
- Using recycled materials or packaging
- Using sustainable materials
It is possible for a product to be eco-friendly without addressing all of the issues outlined above. Sometimes producers have to balance the pros and cons of different materials and practices. For example, material made from hemp may use less water and fewer pesticides than cotton—however, hemp is usually grown overseas, and transporting it to the U.S. uses more fossil fuel. Students will have to balance factors and make their own decisions about the materials and practices they wish to use.