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Eco-friendly means “not harmful to the environment”, according to a quick google search, but what does that entail, really?

What is eco-friendly and what does it really mean to have an eco-friendly lifestyle and to make eco-friendly choices? In this article, we explore the subject of eco-friendliness and try to answer the question that is on everybody's lips nowadays: What is eco-friendly?

First. What's the definition of eco-friendly?

The definition of what is eco-friendly: “Not harmful to the environment” doesn’t really help us much. In fact, it’s an answer that raises even more questions as it doesn’t go into very much detail about what it means to be harmful or even what it is that we refer to as “the environment.” Clearly, a better definition than that is needed for us to have a meaningful discussion on the subject: What is eco-friendly?

Most common questions online

The most common questions about eco-friendliness online are about specific materials:
  • Is glass eco-friendly?
  • Is rubber eco-friendly?
  • Is bamboo eco-friendly?
While these are interesting questions they are generally impossible to answer. Everything affects the environment in some way. To know if something is eco-friendly we really must compare it to the alternatives.

Is silicone eco friendly?

Silicone is a synthetic polymer that has become increasingly popular for use in kitchen equipment in recent years. It is very flexible but still durable and it will withstand unbelievable levels of abuse.

It can be put in the freezer, tossed in the oven, bent and twisted in all ways conceivable and still snap back into shape afterwards, without a scratch. Silicone products are the preferred choice before traditional plastic alternatives in almost every case. Is it eco-friendly, though?

We would say yes, but only in comparison to plastic. The manufacturing and recycling situation is far from perfect, but silicon still wins because of its longevity.

Is Bamboo eco friendly?

Yes. Bamboo is a natural material that, quite literally, can be grown in your garden, without the need for lots of pesticides and other chemicals.

Bamboo is 100 per cent renewable and can be used to make everything from scaffolding to underwear.

Bamboo is perfect for making utensils and other kitchen equipment, as it is waterproof, stain proof, durable and has excellent antibacterial properties.

Is glass eco friendly?

What is eco-friendly about glass? Most prominently that it can be infinitely recycled. Glass is made from sand. Manufacturing new glass requires a lot of heat and some chemicals, so it’s not an obviously eco-friendly choice, but it can be, under the right circumstances.

Durability and recyclability are the two areas where glass really shines. A glass container will last practically forever if you don’t break it and it can be washed and reused as many times as you like.

Compared to plastic and many other materials glass is very eco-friendly, if you just reuse it.

Is nylon eco friendly?

Nylon is a synthetic polyamide, replacing natural fibres, such as wool and silk. Nylon is made from petrochemicals and the production releases a lot of greenhouse gases in the form of nitrous oxide.

Nylon is not biodegradable and is a big contributor to microplastics pollution. What is eco-friendly about nylon? Almost nothing, however, it can be an eco-friendly alternative. High-quality nylon is very durable and will outlast many other materials and it can be recycled, although this rarely happens. It is also products using recycled nylon.

Is rubber eco friendly?

Natural rubber is manufactured using latex extracted from the Para rubber tree. It cannot really be recycled, but it can be ground up and reused. What is eco-friendly about rubber?

It is a natural material and the Para rubber tree can be grown in a sustainable way. However, rubber products can be reused the rubber cannot be completely recycled and made as new, and it must be properly handled and disposed of not to harm the environment.

Is concrete eco friendly?

What is eco-friendly about concrete? Nothing, really. It consumes large amounts of crushed rock, that is not renewable and the manufacturing uses copious amounts of clean water. Concrete cannot really be recycled. It can be crushed and used as filler material, but the properties of the raw materials are essentially lost in the process.

Summary

What is eco-friendly? The question is easy to raise but almost impossible to answer outside of a specific context.

Almost everything we do will affect or “harm” the environment in some way. That’s why it is important to always compare the alternatives when trying to determine if something is eco-friendly or not.

When choosing between products, the most eco-friendly choice is usually no product at all, but that is assuming there will be no gain for the environment.

Take gardening equipment, for example. Manufacturing it will surely affect the environment but if it’s wisely used to grow a garden it may be a win after all.

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