What Does it Mean When People Say Green?

February 2, 2011 Two comments View all articles in General

We throw the terms green, eco-friendly, and sustainable around a lot here at Chasing Green. But with so many companies now using greenwashing as a marketing and PR strategy, it's important to know what these terms actually mean. Not only for those who are already committed to living low-impact lifestyles, but for those who are simply seeking healthier approaches to everyday tasks.


Going green means something different for each person, which is why it's such a favored umbrella term for ad campaigns of companies with vague or dishonest intentions (i.e., greenwashing). Yes, it means being friendly to the environment or living a life that doesn't endanger the health of people or animals. But when you're going green, you're essentially seeking to reduce negative impacts on the planet in every way possible. For example, an individual who strives to be green may eat fewer or no animal products to reduce methane (a greenhouse gas responsible for global warming and 21 times more powerful than CO2) emissions from livestock agriculture; they may install LED or CFL light bulbs in their home or office to limit energy consumption; or perhaps they'll simply bike or walk to work instead of driving to reduce their carbon footprint.

Environment Defined By Webster

Ecology is the relationship between living organisms and their habitats, or humans and the earth. On the surface , eco-friendliness is taking good care of the environment. But one's environment also involves social, economic,  and political factors. Truly eco-friendly products do not merely consider the impacts of production and manufacturing on natural resources or wildlife, they consider the treatment of the farmers or workers as well. The qualities assigned to eco-friendliness may just as easily be termed green since no international standard for either concept exists, and both seek to preserve the health of the environment as well as that of human and animal life.


Sustainability, on the other hand, is providing the best for humans and the environment in the best way possible both now and in the indefinite future. As the 1987 Brundtland Report (also known as Our Common Future ) states, something considered sustainable “Meet[s] the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” Certain kinds of human activity such as deforestation and carbon dioxide emissions (from power plants, automobiles, airplanes, and buildings) must be limited if we are expected to survive on earth indefinitely. These activities are directly responsible for the greenhouse effect that is causing global warming. Avoiding overconsumption by using what you already have, limiting your automobile and airplane travel by walking or biking, and reusing everything so no additional resources are exhausted are all sustainable actions.

To Put It Simply:

When you read an article at Chasing Green that contains the terms green or eco-friendly , you'll know we're talking about things that are good for humans, animals, the environment: the planet. And when you see the term sustainable being used, you'll know we're talking about how our planet and everything on it can be preserved for future generations.


Dee on Feb. 3, 2011 at 8:24 a.m.

Its all just too much to take in and worry about. We could spend our whole life tracking each thing in its entirety and trying to discern each persons true motives for what they are 'telling' us about anything! Impossible.

Do I care? Yes, of course I do-but my stress level goes way up if I worry about all of it! And then, there is the information you try to pass on to family and friends, just to find out a few months or a year later-you were misinformed! It's all just too, much!

Chasing Green on Feb. 3, 2011 at 10:26 a.m.

Misinformation is definitely a problem particularly in this internet/social media age where it is so easy to share what we've just heard with other people.

Don't let it all get you down though. All any of us can do is to live to the best of our understanding.

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