Ideally we would like to review quantified life-cycle environmental impacts of each product and have their individual impacts weighted, however, such data is not available today. The complexity further increases since there are no common attributes that cut across all product categories and very often, we end up comparing apples to oranges, for example, comparing the resource-extraction impacts of one product with the manufacturing impacts of another, and the consumption impacts of a third.
To successfully and reasonably evaluate environmental impacts of products we adopted a two way approach - identify quantifiable, easily verifiable, specifications where available and defined, and then base other decisions about what should be included on the collective wisdom of our research staff. For example, specific quantifiable thresholds can be established for non degradable products nonetheless , for many others, the data is much fuzzier and judgment calls are required.
In a number of cases we have had to apply multiple criteria since a product may be considered green for more than one reason. Take recycled jewelry, for example: it’s made from recycled material and it is handmade. This significantly reduces the energy consumption that would otherwise go into machine made jewelry (plus the raw material may not be recycled).
A product with multiple benefits could qualify to appear on Green N Brown on the basis of its overall environmental performance, even if it doesn’t meet a threshold in any one category alone. Conversely, a product with one or more green attributes might not qualify if it also carries significant environmental burdens.
Broadly, we have qualified products that fall under one or more of 4 broad categories as below:
- Products Made with Recycled or Agricultural Waste Content
- Salvaged products — whenever we can reuse a product instead of producing a new one from raw materials—even if those raw materials are recycled—we save on resource use and energy. A good example is the products made from flip flops that are often littered on sea shores. An artisan group in Kenya decided to make beautiful home décor items out of these salvaged products.
- Products with recycled content — Recycled content (especially post consumer) is an important attribute and qualifying criteria for Green. We have several products that are made from recycled content such as candy wrapper foils, telephone wires, oil drums and recycled metal.
- Products made from agricultural waste material — A number of products are derived from agricultural waste products. Most of these are made from plant fiber or wood. Check out products made from banana fiber or carved wood.
- Products That Conserve Natural Resources: Aside from recycled content, there are a number of other ways that products can contribute to the conservation of natural resources. These include products that are especially durable and therefore won’t need replacement as often, products made from rapidly renewable resources.
- Products with exceptional durability or low maintenance requirements — These products are environmentally appealing because they need to be replaced less frequently, or they need low or no maintenance. While this criteria is highly variable by individual product type, it certainly is a significant contributing factor to the green designation of any product. Included in this category are such products as soy candles that have very long burning hours reducing the need to use more (number of) ordinary candles.
- Rapidly renewable products — Rapidly renewable materials are distinguished by the shorter harvest rotation—typically 10 years or less. They are biodegradable, often (but not always) low in VOC emissions, and generally produced from agricultural crops. Because sunlight is generally the primary energy input (via photosynthesis), these products may be less energy-intensive to produce—though transportation and processing energy use must be considered. Examples include textiles such as organic cotton.
- Products That Avoid Toxic or Other Emissions: Some products are considered green because they have low manufacturing impacts mainly because they are hand made or hand crafted. In addition to serving as alternatives to conventional products made from harmful chemicals, they facilitate reduction in polluting emissions.
- Natural or minimally processed products — Products that are natural or minimally processed can be green because of low energy use and low risk of chemical releases during manufacture. These can include wood products, agricultural or nonagricultural plant products, and mineral products.
- Products that conserve resources — Products that are made by hand are often far lesser resource intensive than similar products that have a mechanized manufacturing process. While this has significant positive environmental impact, the added benefits are associated with nurturing art forms and supporting artisans.
- Products That Contribute to a Safe, Healthy Lifestyle: This category carries products that may not have direct tangible eco impacts nonetheless these qualify to be listed on the web site owing to their virtue of their iconic qualities that promote or inspire environmental stewarship.
- Products that improve quality of life — There is a growing body of evidence that natural products are beneficial to our health. While quality of life directly has an impact on the surrounding environment both at an individual as well as community level, at Green N Brown we have included products that enhance health, reduce stress levels and promote holistic well being.
- Products that promote eco friendliness and inspire others – These are essentially products that overlap over several categories above, nonetheless the greatest impact of these products is promoting eco friendliness around inspiring others. Bonsai trees are a great example of such products.
We seek our product related statistics from our in-house research team @ GreenNBrown.com. The calculations are based entirely on the methodology devised by the in-house research team. Whilst we make every effort to ensure that we seek accurate information from our team, we do not take responsibility for the statistics of the product and should it come to light that any information proves to be inaccurate we will take immediate steps to remove it from our website.
For serious researchers, the reader should seek independent advice from experts and use our website for guidance purposes only.