The word "green" can describe almost everything these days, from vegetables to cars. Green products are products that produce limited carbon footprints; they may require fewer resources to produce, consume less energy or emit fewer hazardous emissions. Using green products can help to lessen the environmental impact of day-to-day activities.
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Green food isn't necessarily peas and string beans, although both of these things can be green. Locally produced foods, such as vegetables and fruit you buy from a farmers market or grow yourself, have a much smaller carbon footprint than ones shipped long distances, requiring the burning of large amounts of fossil fuels. Organic foods, which use fewer chemicals and pesticides in their production, also can be green, although if they need to be transported long distances, their greenness might be offset by the amount of fuel used in shipping. In a National Geographic interview, Friends of the Earth U.K.'s Executive Director Andy Atkins suggested shoppers look for local organic products from neighborhood markets for the greenest food. An organically grown tomato from a farm just down the road would be the ideal green food product.
Appliances and Electronics
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy have a joint program called Energy Star that identifies energy-efficient products, including home appliances and electronic equipment. The program allows consumers to identify products that conserve energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by inefficient use of energy. An Energy Star-rated dishwasher, for example, uses less water and less energy than traditional dishwashers, conserving natural resources and combating global warming. Energy Star computers have power-management features that put them into sleep mode after a period of inactivity, greatly reducing the power consumed.
Phosphate-free dishwasher and laundry detergents are green because they don't discharge environment-damaging phosphates into waterways. Other examples of green cleaning products are those labeled "certified biodegradable;" these have passed several stringent tests relating to biodegradability and environmental impact conducted by an independent certifying agency. According to Consumer Reports, the "certified biodegradable" label is more meaningful than a "general biodegradable" label. Glass and metal cleaners, kitchen and bathroom cleaners, and laundry detergents are products that might carry this label.
Green cars are energy-efficient and create limited air pollution and greenhouse gases. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has standards for vehicle emissions and fuel efficiency. It ranks cars from one to 10 for both air pollution and greenhouse gases. SmartWay-designated cars have a six or better in both areas, with a combined total of at least 13. The greenest cars, designated SmartWay Elite, have a nine or better in both areas.