Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Eco Friendly and Sustainable

Eco-friendly is used to describe a product or activity that does not harm the environment. Sustainable is a term used for an activity or product that will not be detrimental to future generations.

What is Eco-friendly?


Eco-friendly is a term that is often used to describe an item or activity that will not cause harm to the environment.


There are activities people can do that are more eco-friendly. For instance, not using plastic bags or cups because these items cause harm to the environment when disposed of. You can use a cloth bag to put your groceries in when you shop instead of a plastic bag. Products made from recycled materials are considered more eco-friendly than single-use items. 


The big benefit is that eco-friendly products are not harmful in the way that other products are. This is better because it reduces the buildup of waste in landfills and reduces pollution in the environment. Eco-friendly approaches in an industry also have a benefit on supply chains because they can improve a company’s reputation and help the environment.


It can be more expensive to go eco-friendly. For instance, buying a cloth bag is more expensive than using a plastic bag at the shop. It may be harder to always find eco-friendly products to buy. It also may be less convenient to use eco-friendly items.

What is Sustainable?


Sustainable is a term used to refer to activities or products that meet the needs of the present-day generations without reducing the opportunities for future generations.


An example of sustainability is a sustainable yield when fishing. In other words, fishing in such a way that there will be fish remaining in the ocean for future generations. Overfishing needs to be prevented because some fish need to remain to breed and repopulate the ocean.


Sustainability is the ethical approach to take to ensure others have resources in the future since it protects natural resources. 


The costs may be higher, at least initially, and some businesses may cease to exist meaning that people become unemployed. For instance, if all plastic is banned from being manufactured then plastic manufacturing employees will lose their jobs.

Difference between Eco-friendly and Sustainable?


Eco-friendly is a term used to describe a product or activity that does no harm to the environment. Sustainable is a term used to describe an activity or product that will not cause harm or damage to future generations.


Examples of eco-friendly include recycling activities and using cloth shopping bags instead of plastic. Examples of sustainable activities include not overfishing to ensure that there will be fish available in the future.

Focus is on the future

Eco-friendly does not necessarily mean that products will be sustainable; in other words, the future is not considered. Sustainable is based on the idea that actions and products will not be harmful in the future. 


The benefits of eco-friendly items and activities are that they are good for the environment and will not pollute the environment. The benefits of sustainable products and activities are that they will not harm the environment and generations in the future.


Eco-friendly products may be more expensive and more inconvenient to use compared with traditional products. Sustainable products and activities may be more expensive and it requires government cooperation, which may be difficult to always achieve.

Table comparing Eco-friendly and Sustainable

Summary of Eco-friendly Vs. Sustainable

  • Eco-friendly and sustainable are terms that are often used together. 
  • Eco-friendly activities and products focus on the present time and avoiding harm to the environment.
  • Sustainable is a term used to refer to actions or products that will not be detrimental to generations of the future.


Is sustainable and eco-friendly the same?

No, sustainable is focused on the future while eco-friendly is more about the present time and what will not harm the planet. Sustainable includes a broader range of activities and items, while eco-friendly is related to doing activities and having products that currently help protect the environment.

What is the difference between going green sustainability and eco-friendly?

Eco-friendly means that a product does not harm the environment while going green sustainability means that a product and how it is made does not harm the environment and does not have an adverse impact on future generations. Even though a product is eco-friendly, how it is formed may not be.

What is the difference between eco-friendly and sustainable building?

An eco-friendly building is one that does not harm the environment while a sustainable building will continue to function without causing harm in the future.

Are eco-friendly products sustainable?

The best eco-friendly products will be sustainable in that they will not harm the environment in the future. However, this may not always be the case depending on the product and how the term is used. An eco-friendly washing machine may use less energy in the short term but the disposal of the machine may render it not sustainable unless it can be recycled somehow.

What can I say instead of eco-friendly?

Several terms can be used including environmentally-friendly, ecological, non-polluting, and green. 

What word can I use instead of sustainable?

Renewable is sometimes used instead of sustainable.

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References :

[0]Encyclopedia Britannica. “Sustainability.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 2023, https://www.britannica.com/science/sustainability

[1]Ker, Wong, Yap Kar Sen, and Salini Devi Rajendran. "A study on the benefits of eco-friendly packaging on sustainable supply chain management in fast moving consumer goods industry." E3S Web of Conferences. Vol. 136. EDP Sciences, 2019.

[2]Nguyen, Anh Thu, et al. "A consumer definition of eco-friendly packaging." Journal of Cleaner Production 252 (2020): 119792.

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