Environmentally friendly or environment-friendly, (also referred to as eco-friendly, nature-friendly, and green) are sustainability and marketing terms referring to goods and services, laws, guidelines and policies that claim reduced, minimal, or no harm upon ecosystems or the environment. Companies use these ambiguous terms to promote goods and services, sometimes with additional, more specific certifications, such as ecolabels. Their overuse can be referred to as greenwashing.
The International Organization for Standardization has developed ISO 14020 and ISO 14024 to establish principles and procedures for environmental labels and declarations that certifiers and eco-labellers should follow. In particular, these standards relate to the avoidance of financial conflicts of interest, the use of sound scientific methods and accepted test procedures, and openness and transparency in the setting of standards.
Products located in members of the European Union can use the EU's Eco-label pending the EU's approval. EMAS is another EU label that signifies whether an organization management is green as opposed to the product. Germany also uses the Blue Angel, based on Germany's standard.
In the United States, environmental marketing claims require caution. Ambiguous titles such as environmentally friendly can be confusing without a specific definition; some regulators are providing guidance. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has deemed some ecolabels misleading in determining whether a product is truly "green".
In Canada, one label is that of the Environmental Choice Program. Created in 1988, only products approved by the program are allowed to display the label.
The Energy Rating Label is a Type III label that provides information on "energy service per unit of energy consumption". It was first created in 1986, but negotiations led to a redesign in 2000.
The environmentally friendly trends are marketed with a different color association, using the color blue for clean air and clean water, as opposed to green in western cultures. Japanese and Korean built hybrid vehicles use the color blue instead of green all throughout the vehicle, and use the word "blue" indiscriminately.
Energy Star is a program with a primary goal of increasing energy efficiency and indirectly decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Energy Star has different sections for different nations or areas, including the United States, the European Union and Australia. The program, which was founded in the United States, also exists in Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and Taiwan.