Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Eco Friendly. Sustainable. Green. What is the Difference?

Just recently, Dunitz & Company agreed to be part of NY NOW's upcoming Wholesale Digital Market. Participating in a virtual trade show is a completely new concept for us. (OK, it's probably new for most of you reading this too.) The on-boarding for this show has been a huge task.  It also brought up questions about words I've used so often interchangeably. But when this digital show delineated between "Eco Friendly" and "Sustainable", it made me realize there were subtleties I obviously didn't understand. Are you in the same boat? After scouring the internet, I came up with these definitions and explanations for their difference. And while I was at it, I decided to throw in the word "Green" too.

First off, so many people use the word "Green" these days.  No, not the color, green. The dictionary describes green when used in the context of this conversation as "to make less harmful or more sensitive to the environment." People tend to use this word as a catch all to describe anything that is benefiting our planet. Guilty.

Now let's talk Eco Friendly. The use of these words together isn't quite as broad as 'green.'  It means that something doesn't harm our planet.  Webster's dictionary simply says "not environmentally harmful." When it comes to fabrics, using dead-stock (not producing more) might be seen as eco friendly. Recycling or upcycling textiles and other stuff (yup, broad term, "stuff") would be the same.  We've come to realize that many people also freely use the words "eco friendly." Stop and ask them what they mean. On products, for such terms to be actually listed on their packaging, the FTC requires explanations of the whys and hows something won't harm the planet.

Environmentally Friendly Jewelry
Dunitz Eco Friendly Designs

Great. After that, I knew th
at several designs in the Dunitz & Company collection would be classified as Eco Friendly. We incorporate recycled denim we buy at the flea markets in several of our jewelry designs. (I promise we wash everything before we use it.) We use vintage Czech glass buttons which hale from dead stock. (They're super cool and really beautiful.) Retired coins. Old watch parts. These too make for great looking jewelry. Our laser cut earrings are made with particle board created from recycled eucalyptus wood.


So what is Sustainable then? Sustainability is much more precise and is measured by so many more variables. Sustainability looks to our future. It means the item or action is generating environmental, social and economic benefits, while not using up too many resources or causing pollution. According to ecocult.com, "sustainability includes eco friendly activities and green products, but green doesn’t necessarily mean sustainable. For instance, a product made from renewable resources is considered green, yet if a life-cycle analysis shows that it required a lot of energy to manufacture and ship to you, and if there isn’t a proper way to dispose of the product, then it’s not considered sustainable."  With this definition, we know that there are very few consumer products that would be considered sustainable. And for this reason, we decided that Dunitz & Company jewelry would not be classified as sustainable. (We sure are curious to see which of our NY NOW exhibitor wholesaler colleagues will classify their items as sustainable, and what those items are.)


Eco Friendly Explained
Perfect Pin
Our eyes have been opened a bit more. After exploring more accurate definitions of Green, Eco Friendly and Sustainable, it's clear we'll be using these words differently going forward. Our Pinterest boards have been corrected. Dunitz & Company is a verified Fair Trade Federation member and a gold certified Green America business.  You can always feel good wearing and selling our designs. And now you know that many of our designs can accurately be described as Eco Friendly. -ND