(NaturalNews) The world's largest home improvement retail chain has announced the launch of an "Eco Options" labeling program in the United States, to clearly identify for consumers those products that have a lesser impact on the environment. The program began in Canada in 2004.
To qualify for the Eco Options label, a product must either be considered inherently eco-friendly by the company -- such as solar-powered lights -- or must be certified as such by an independent company. So far, there are more than 2,500 products in the Eco Options line, including biodegradable pots, front-load washing machines, natural insect repellants and organic plant food. According to Home Depot, the line will expand as new products are identified and labeled.
As part of the Eco Options campaign launch, Home Depot gave away 1 million compact fluorescent light bulbs on this year's Earth Day. CFLs not only use between one-fourth and one-fifth the energy of a standard incandescent bulb, they also last approximately 8,000 to 15,000 hours each -- compared to an incandescent bulb's life of only 750 to 1,000 hours. They are not nearly as efficient as newer LED lights, however, and fluorescent lights contain dangerous mercury vapor. "The mercury in fluorescent lights poses a serious problem for the safety of families and the environment," said Mike Adams, founder of EcoLEDs.com, a maker of mercury-free LED light bulbs for residential and commercial use.
According to Home Depot, the giveaway of fluorescent lights will result in a 196-million-pound reduction in annual greenhouse gas emissions, or the equivalent of removing more than 70,000 cars from the road. It will also save consumers $12 million in annual energy costs, the store says.
The company has set up a web site, www.homedepot.com/ecooptions, to publicize information about the campaign and to educate consumers about sustainable forestry, energy efficiency, healthy homes, clean air and water conservation.
According to the web site, the company has already sold more than 354 million Eco Options products, saved nearly 4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity and kept 7.75 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
There are 2,167 Home Depot Stores in the United States in Canada, in addition to stores in Mexico and China.