What are the differences of "green", "sustainable", "eco-friendly", "ethical", "fair-trade"..?

Updated: Nov 12, 2018

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Green = earthy, natural

Sustainable = maintain earth’s viability

Eco-friendly = "environmentally friendly, eco"

Ethical = buy products produced morally.

Fair-trade = shop

Clean = using natural ingredient without pesticide.

Organic = products made from animals or plants.

Non-Toxic = product with no harmful chemicals

Artisan = hand-craft

Conscious = aware of the products’ origin

Thoughtful = being considerate to farmers, producers.

If these words are being used carelessly, especially in the marketing department, it will be confusing, misunderstood, misleading because the words seem synonymous, or similar meaning. Almost all of these words refer to cognitive as well as social and environmental responsibility, which are interrelated. In semantics, it is important to properly understand the differences of each word, to use correctly and be able to understand what the manufacturer or the ads use, and be knowledgeable and responsible consumers.

To further explain this, here are some basic guidelines for curious people and want to discover more about the different shades of GREEN!


The meaning of the word "GREEN" is no longer simply to talk about a color. Today, this term is used continuously in the common word use in communication to talk about almost everything related to environmental benefits, from the action, the movement to the both in architecture and fashion.

"ENVIRONMENTAL FRIENDLY" does not have a broad meaning. It refers to something that does not harm the Earth.

"SUSTAINABILITY" is the most defined term here, and it represents a broad range of issues and activities, according to the United Nations, "Sustainability" means MEETING THE NEEDS OF THE PRESENT WITHOUT COMPROMISING THE ABILITY OF FUTURE GENERATIONS TO MEET THEIR OWN NEED.

Sustainability is primarily for the future. It refers to tools or actions that create value for the environment, society and the economy, and do not use too much resources or pollute. All of these aspects are included in the word "sustainability".

Compared to 'Green' and 'Environmentally Friendly', 'Sustainability' has a much higher standard. Sustainability includes environmentally friendly activities and green products, but "Green" does not always mean "Sustainable". For example, a product made from renewable materials can be considered green, but the life-cycle analysis of this product indicates that people have consumed a lot of energy to produce and transport the item; plus if it does not have a proper way to dispose this product after use, it is not considered sustainable.

Honestly, not many products in the consumer world out there are truly sustainable. Instead, some products are slightly more durable when compared to their alternative products.


The increasing demand for safe products, mainly in the healthcare and beauty industry, has created the terms "CLEAN" and "NON TOXIC", and they are quite similar. "Clean" refers to ingredients, natural or synthetic, that not harmful to your health. The "Non Toxic" product does not contain ingredients that may be harmful to your health or the environment. When it comes to beauty products or cleansing products, LaiDay will often use "Non Toxic", simply because it is more accurate and consistent than clean living terms.

"ORGANIC" is a legal term, used by USDA to certify food, beauty products and other agricultural products produced in a particular way - essentially without synthetics harmful to the environment and human health. We only use this term when it comes to food, restaurants, beauty products ... using organic ingredients.


Since the 1980s, global trade has changed in a more positive direction, especially in developing regions of the world.

It started with the "FAIR TRADE" movement to protect producers of coffee, cocoa and tea with low prices on the international market. This is a well-defined term and is only used when it is certified by an international regulatory organization, such as the Fair Trading Certificate, the Fair Trade Federation, World Fair Trade. LaiDay Refill will only use this term with certified products and have a logo indicating this.

ETHICAL TRADE refers to the working conditions of workers producing clothing, toys, food and other products for multinational companies, as well as how they are paid for their works. This is a broad term not properly certified or defined, but it is still useful for describing the type of product you want to buy.

The term "ARTISAN" goes against the industrial production chain. Handmade products are usually hand-made and manufactured with minimal automation by skilled workers in developing countries. But, the reality that something is done by hand does not mean it is sustainable.


"BE CONSCIOUS, BE RESPONSIBLE" is often directed towards consumer consciousness and high standards of health and environment. Being a responsible consumer means knowing how to read and understand labels, product information, and understand that with sustainable, organic and animal-friendly products ... the cost will have to be higher. "BE CONSCIOUS, BE RESPONSIBLE" is a word about a way of life, which is also a term for describing people, businesses, or ways of thinking, rather than talking about specific products.

Meanwhile, "CONSIDERABLE, THOUGHTFUL" is attending to the needs of others, being fully informed about a certain topic to make decisions or form a point of view. "CONSIDERABLE, THOUGHTFUL" expresses all the ideas, and words mentioned in this article, and it can be seen as an overarching goal. "Considerable, thoughtful" goes far beyond becoming a responsible buyer and recycler. Buying local products is good, but using analytical methods to read labels or choosing eco-friendly packaging are just the starting point.

"CONSIDERABLE, THOUGHTFUL" and awareness must accompany the pursuit of an entirely new way of life, a way of prioritizing minimalism, "less is more". Accepting "slow fashion", is the “LIFESTYLE that DESIGNING, MANUFACTURING, AND PURCHASING MOVE AT A SLOW PACE, WE BUY LESS AND PRACTICE THE ART OF LETTING GO OF UNNECESSARY ITEMS”. Grow our own food or buy at farmers’ markets. Learn to make your own skin care products with natural ingredients. Clean the surrounding environment by removing pollutants and breaking messy habit. Sell ​​and donate things that are no longer necessary to you. Choose life with a small house located in the pedestrian friendly area and easy access to public transportation. Read lots of quality literature and materials on environmental and human rights issues, and be a "considerable, thoughtful for others, thoughtful for tomorrow" citizen.