Confused About Eco-Friendly Products? Here Is How to Decode Their Labels!

In an effort to be a more mindful consumer, you might be curious about purchasing items labeled “carbon neutral,” “organic,” or otherwise “green.” But, what exactly do these words mean, and how can you make sure you’re supporting the right initiatives? Sometimes, the labels on our favorite products do little to clear up the confusion, so here is a shortlist of sustainability buzzwords to learn and look for when shopping.


If something is biodegradable, that means it can be broken down and returned to the Earth over time, without any processing on humans’ end. Food waste is one example of biodegradable material.

Carbon Neutral

Carbon emissions pose a big threat to our environment. When you see a carbon-neutral product, that means that its carbon dioxide emissions and absorption are equal, resulting in net neutral emissions.


Compostable materials can break down over time, but unlike biodegradable materials, they require certain composting conditions to do so. These could include fertile soil, moisture, and oxygen.


Organic products are grown without any use of man-made materials, such as fertilizers or pesticides – though there are a few allowances. Organic products are also not genetically modified (non-GMO).


If you have ever cut an old t-shirt into a rag, you’ve upcycled! This refers to using waste materials to create something new. Some brands, like Everlane, incorporate upcycled materials into their products.

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