A Quick Guide To Eco Symbols

It can be confusing knowing which symbol means what when you are out shopping for green goods. As legislation is constantly changing, you need to make sure your product knowledge is up to date when it comes to knowing which symbol does what.

With a number of things to think about when you shop, including buying Fairtrade products, knowing what you can recycle and understanding what your goods are made of, we’ve decided to make things easy for you by providing a one-stop-shop guide to all the current eco symbols available on the market, and what they mean to you when you go out shopping for products…

Eco symbols guide

Knowing what your symbols and signs mean can lead you to a savvy shopping experience without being concerned about the impact your spending may be having on the environment around you. Print off the table and use it next time you step out for a spree, knowing that you are completely up to date with the latest rules and regulations surrounding your green shopping and eco awareness!

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We Are What We Do – Something To Inspire Us All

Every now and then, we come across an organization or product that really inspires us. One such organization is the simple, engaging and environmentally-friendly We are what we do. Rather aptly titled, the UK-based charity describes itself as ‘a global movement that inspires people to use their everyday behaviour to affect big environmental and social issues.’ It’s a pretty ambitious aim, but when you check out their credentials, they certainly pack a punch.

Remember the wonderful bag, designed by Anya Hindmarch, with the strapline ‘I’m NOT a plastic bag.’? A limited edition run, the bag became synonymous with the move away from plastic bags, and towards an altogether more sustainable way to carry groceries and other shopping. And the idea for the bag? It came from this great little charity that seems to be brimming with good green ideas.

I am not a plastic bag

Simple actions
If you check out the We are what we do website, you’ll find ideas for 132 actions that you can do right now, to help make life a little bit better for everyone. From saving energy to recycling, donating money to improving the area that you live in, there’s something for everyone. The website includes a live counter, which allows you to ‘report’ when you’ve completed an action – and with almost 5 million actions taken by site visitors, they’re definitely on to something! Examples of individual actions include:

#094 Make coffee for someone busier than you
#025 Use a mug, not a plastic cup
#101 Make someone smile
#013 Recycle your mobile phone
And my personal favorite…..#123 Don’t start a war.

The site demonstrates that small, simple actions have the power to change lives and improve our planet.

From humble beginnings
Founded by David Robinson, a community worker, and Eugenie Harvey, a communications and marketing specialist, the charity has attracted creative thinkers from business, government and the voluntary sector with the aim of finding new and innovative ways to change society for the better. The charity has published two books – including their bestselling Change the world for a fiver which included ideas contributed by people around the world which would make the world a better place. This was closely followed by Change the world 9–5 which focused on encouraging positive behaviour change in the workplace.

The organization is also committed to inspiring young people, and now runs a Young Speakers Program, training young volunteers to give talks and run assemblies in schools across the UK, which encourage their peers to take action on the issues that matter most to them. Their latest campaign, ‘Teach your granny to text’, is designed to encourage intergenerational bonding – helping young and old people to spend time together and learn from each other. So, there’s no shortage of great ideas, and site visitors are invited to contribute their own ideas too. So, if you’ve got a wonderful idea for improving life as we know it, why not email info@wearewhatwedo.org …if anyone can make it happen, they can!

Neogreene Provides Even More Alternatives To Neoprene

We’ve previously talked about Neogreene and it being a green alternative to neoprene. That “Neoprene smell?” is actually off-gassing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Formaldehyde, lead, chlorine and toluene are frequently in there and many people are sensitive to these chemicals, so it’s not uncommon for people using wetsuits to have a skin reaction to the material.

A company called GreenSmart were determined to find a cleaner, greener alternative. They have expanded to lunch bags and wine bottle carriers, taking the stink out of lunch and giving a stylish way to carry and keep wine chilled during the holidays. The water bottle sleeves have now gotten refined in their design and come in a range of colors.

neogreenenew

They have three designs of lunch bag, called Sifaka, Margay, and Javan, that expand on the often staid concept of what a lunch bag can look like.

Wine bottles get a non toxic, stylish home as well, with models called Finback (holds one bottle) and Bowhead (two bottles).

As you may have noticed, all the products have animal names. These are endangered species, a reminder that GreenSmart now donates 10% of net profits to the World Wildlife Fund and other environmental organizations.

Neogreene is a result of a long, careful collaboration with GreenSmart’s supplier, and is a vast improvement:

  • All water based adhesives
  • No Chlorine
  • PVC & Lead Free
  • No Formaldehyde
  • No VOCs
  • 25% less petroleum than neoprene
  • 25% less energy (compared to producing neoprene)
  • Even the green coloring of the Neogreene is a water based dye (neoprene cannot be dyed)

Check them out at GreenSmart

A Real-Life Wall-E

Apparently Italian scientists are developing DustCart, an on-demand robot trash collector. DustCart is part of a project called “DustBot,” a $3.9 million research program that started in 2006 to implement robotics in society in useful ways, such as cleaning the streets. As well as collecting trash “on-demand” the robot is able to gather real time data on the surrounding environment. Equipped with special sensors it monitors air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, ozone, benzene, CO, CO2 and air temperature.

dustbot

Part of me thinks it’s a great idea, another part thinks it’s not really a solution – we already have people who earn their living cleaning the streets, it’s very expensive and it doesn’t look entirely practical. Mind you, he looks happy in his work.

Read more about DustBot here.

What Is Neoprene and What Is The Alternative?

I never really knew, but I suppose I could have guessed that Neoprene, that black stretchy material that goes into wetsuits, laptop sleeves, water bottle covers is full of toxic nastiness, particularly the solvents used to glue it to other materials. That “Neoprene smell?” is actually off-gassing Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Formaldehyde, lead, chloring and toluene are frequently in there and many people are sensitive to these chemicals, so it’s not uncommon for people using wetsuits to have a skin reaction to the material.

A company called GreenSmart were determined to find a cleaner, greener alternative. Neogreene is a result of a long, careful collaboration with GreenSmart’s supplier, and is a vast improvement:

neogreene
  • All water based adhesives
  • No Chlorine
  • PVC & Lead Free
  • No Formaldehyde
  • No VOCs
  • 25% less petroleum than neoprene
  • 25% less energy (compared to producing neoprene)
  • Even the green coloring of the Neogreene is a water based dye (neoprene cannot be dyed)

The first products to include Neogreene are laptop sleeves and water bottle totes/holsters. The first thing you notice is something missing: No cardboard packaging framing the sleeves for store display. Just a small fabric loop at top for it to hang in stores, with a paper tag telling you about it, itself recycled and recyclable.

They realize there’s more to go to eliminate all non renewable resources, using all recycled material, and they’re committed to continuing towards that goal. Meanwhile they have a product who makers don’t have to use masks while manufacturing it, and is safer to us, while apparently being at a competitive price to the typical options out there.

Click to find more info on Neogreene and recycled plastic bottle Bottles 2 Bag gear and
Neogreene water bottle totes.

Give Your Kid A Waste Free Lunch Kit

If you’ve ever worried about the amount of trash thrown away by your children every day from their school dinners, then the Kids Konserve reusable lunch kit might be for you.

The kit contains a reusable cotton sack (though not sure if it has your name on like my Terratotes one!), two stainless steel lunch containers, a stainless steel water bottle, a food kozy (apparently an alternative to plastic bags/wrap and foil), cloth napkin and a recycled aluminum name tag.

Kids Konserve Reusable lunch kit

The kit costs $40 with other accessories available from Kids Konserve. You, of course, don’t have to buy a kit to do this, but this does at least do it all in one place with matching stuff.