5 Buzzwords to Look for When Shopping for Green Products

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There's vegan nail polish and sustainable shoes on the market now. It all sounds good, but what exactly do those terms mean, anyway? Is it just marketing wrapped up in cute bottles? Or do those labels really prove that those brands are saving the earth? If you feel confused while reading labels, don't worry. Ahead, we break down five key buzzwords to look for when you're shopping for green products and tell you exactly what they mean.

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Products that fall in to this category should be made from materials that are grown on organic farms. Those crops differ from the average because they are grown in a way that reduces impact on the environment and minimizes the use of chemicals—like pesticides and fertilizers. Unfortunately, organic labeling on clothing and beauty products isn't as strict as it is on foods, which are regulated by the USDA. But retailers like Whole Foods are protecting customers by establishing their own strict standards for personal care brands and making sure they are certified to the USDA National Organic Standards. And a few clothing carriers like Noctu have been certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard.

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Waxelene Petroleum Jelly Alternative

When you see this word on beauty products, just know that it could be complete bs. A cosmetic item can have the word "natural" written all over it, and the ingredients can still include a bunch of man-made products. Why? Because the term natural isn't legally regulated. There's no need to worry too much because the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulates cosmetics to make sure they don't include dangerous ingredients—like mercury and vinyl chloride. But if you prefer completely natural products, you'll need to dig a bit deeper and read the ingredients list to know for sure what you're getting.

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H&M Conscious Dress

There isn't one set in stone definition for sustainable fashion. But it's typically a term that designers use to describe items that have been made in ways that are safe for the environment and natural resources. It's also used to describe clothing made from renewable energy, and items made in safe working conditions. You may have also heard the sustainability being used to describe what shoppers can do with the products after they are purchased—like rewearing it and recycling products. Many celebrities like Emma Watson and Nikki Reed are jumping on the sustainable-fashion wagon by rewearing and incorporating the sustainable looks into their camera-ready style, too.

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Fair Trade

West Elm Pillow

This label is pretty self-explanatory. Products that are fairly traded are those that are created by workers who were treated fairly during every step of the production process. It's a way for brands to show that they are being socially and economically responsible. Fair Trade U.S.A. has the Apparel and Home Goods program, which certifies brands that are positively impacting cotton farmers, manufacturing workers, and the environment.

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Rafa The Simple Sandal

Veganism isn't only reserved for the foods you eat. There are several fashion and beauty items that are made without any animal products. When it comes to clothes, that means no leather, fur, silk, or cashmere. And in vegan beauty products you won't see lanolin, beeswax, and animal testing. It's definitely good news for animals, but it only helps the environment to a certain extent. Chemicals used to create synthetic materials can end up contaminating the soil in landfills once clothes or shoes are thrown out. That's why it's highly recommended to recycle as much as possible.

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