Biodegradable implies that a product or its packaging will break down in nature in a reasonably short period of time. It has been loosely defined by the federal government and is somewhat meaningful, but can be misleading (GreenerChoices).
Ecolabelling is a voluntary method of environmental performance certification and labeling that is practiced around the world. An "ecolabel" is a label which identifies overall environmental preference of a product or service within a specific product/service category based on life cycle considerations (Global Ecolabelling Network).
Green Cleaning refers to using cleaning methods with environmentally-friendly ingredients and chemicals to preserve human health and environmental quality. Green cleaning techniques and products avoid the use of chemically-reactive and toxic cleaning products which contain various toxic chemicals, some of which emit volatile organic compounds causing respiratory and dermatological problems among other adverse effects (Wikipedia).
Greenwashing is the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service (TerraChoice).
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts (US Green Building Council).
Natural is a term widely found on commercial cleaning products, however the term does not have a clear meaning. There is no standard definition for this claim in the marketplace, so manufacturers can use it as they please. Because a product is "natural" does not necessarily mean it is less toxic, or non-irritating. Even cleaners that are safe enough to eat, like lemon juice, can be irritating to the eyes or skin (GreenerChoices).
Non-Toxic implies that the product will cause no harm to the consumer or environment. However, there is currently no standard definition for the term "non-toxic", and unless otherwise specified, there is no organization independently verifying the claim. It has little value in the marketplace (GreenerChoices).
Sustainability is improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting eco-systems. At the 2005 World Summit it was noted that this requires the reconciliation of environmental, social and economic demands - the "three pillars" of sustainability (Wikipedia).
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands (EPA).
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