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What Does “Sustainable” Mean?

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Woman holding broccoli seedling Lily Roadstones/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Definition:
“Sustainable” refers to the use of renewable materials that have been harvested using practices that reduce environmental impact.

Products made from renewable materials provide an eco-friendly alternative for consumers who wish to protect finite resources for future generations. However, simply exchanging a finite resource for a renewable resource is not enough. In order to be truly sustainable, renewable materials must be harvested using sustainable practices that do not permanently reduce supply. In other words, for the harvesting of renewable resources to be sustainable, those resources must be renewed at a rate equal to or greater than the rate at which they are consumed. Furthermore, the process of planting, harvesting and manufacturing those products must also be sustainable, which means it must not cause irreparable damage to the surrounding area/ecosystem or pollute air or water.

Sustainable vs. Responsibly Sourced
Although often used interchangeably, “sustainable” and “responsibly sourced” do not mean the same thing. A manufacturer that promises to have used “responsibly sourced” sustainable materials, promises that they have investigated the origin of those materials, making sure that they have been harvested/developed using sustainable practices. Just because a product is made of a sustainable material, such as bamboo, does not necessarily mean that bamboo has been responsibly sourced, so be sure to check with the manufacturer and do some independent research before you buy.

Making an Eco-Friendly Choice for Your Child
Thanks to the ever-growing popularity of green living, creating an eco-friendly space for your little one is easier than ever. You’ll find a wealth of stylish, environmentally savvy nursery products ranging from cork flooring to bamboo bedding and everything in between. What's more, by buying sustainable materials, you’ll send a message to manufacturers, asking them to protect our natural resources for the benefit of your children and for children yet to come.

For more tips on designing green nurseries and kids’ rooms, check out our Eco-Friendly Rooms page.

Also Known As: Renewable, eco-friendly
Examples:
  • Bamboo
  • Cork
  • Clay
  • Hemp
  • Cotton
  • Natural Rubber, etc.
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