Home Improvement Ideas: 12 Eco-Friendly Labels That Help You Shop More Sustainably

12 Eco-Friendly Labels That Help You Shop More Sustainably
12 Eco-Friendly Labels That Help You Shop More Sustainably

Shopping more sustainably—whether for cleaning products, clothing, food, home furnishings, or other goods—is a meaningful way to reduce your individual environmental impact. However, navigating the broad landscape of “eco-friendly” products can be a challenge. Companies can make all sorts of ecological claims, but labels often contain misstatements and terms that aren’t really green. To help you sort through the sustainable jargon, we’ll walk you through the labels that actually matter—and what might indicate a product is not as green as it seems.

First up, product claims such as “Free of [insert ingredient]” are a common instance of greenwashing. For example, a boast of “lead-free paint” isn’t really touting anything: Lead paint was banned in 1978. CFCs (or chlorofluorocarbons) are also banned. Additionally, many products are labeled as nontoxic when they contain harmful ingredients. In fact, the label “certified nontoxic” is essentially meaningless since no organization or department of the federal government regulates that term.

Certification on labels might not mean what you think it does either. Look into where the certification is from and where the organization gets its funding. For third-party awards, determine whether the third party is unbiased and, if it’s a nonprofit, who (or what) funds the group. Before you’re swayed by flashy claims, do a bit of research to figure out what’s behind the bright packaging and eye-catching logo.

You should also watch for terms that sound good but really don’t mean a thing about a product’s eco-friendliness. Terms including all-natural, nontoxic, and chemical-free, for example, are not defined and not regulated. A biodegradable label could either refer to the product (like a cleaning solution) or the packaging. For packaging, see if it’s made with recycled content or PET/HDPE materials. As for the word green, any company can call anything green, so the claim carries no weight.

Eco-Friendly Labels that Matter

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Product labels can be pure marketing, or they can really help you make greener choices. Educate yourself on what these popular certifications mean:

  1. B Corp : The B Corp certification signifies that a business has resolved to follow strict social and environmental standards. These standards apply to the entire company, including aspects such as employee benefits, charitable giving, supply chain practices, and the materials used to make their products. To maintain the B Corp label, these companies are legally required to consider their impact on their employees, communities, customers, suppliers, and the environment—as opposed to simply prioritizing profit.

  2. Cradle to Cradle : The Cradle to Cradle certification recognizes sustainability metrics on an end-to-end basis. With the goal of eliminating waste, this program looks at the lifespan of a product as a continuous cycle. Cradle to Cradle certified products are made using renewable resources and materials that are designed to break down naturally or be reused for other resources or products.

  3. Energy Star : The Energy Star label certifies a product’s energy efficiency, according to standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The certification often applies to appliances, electronics, heating and cooling equipment, lighting, and other household products. Purchasing items with this label can help you reduce energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  4. Fair Trade : This program nods to companies that adhere to specific social, environmental, and economic standards. A Fair Trade Certified seal denotes environmental protection, safe working conditions, and improved livelihoods for the people who help make the product. It can apply to food, beverages, beauty products, clothing, and more.

  5. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) : FSC certification recognizes wood harvested from forests that are sustainability managed. One of the primary goals is to protect forests for future generations by conserving biological diversity, water resources, and soils. Look for the label on furniture, decor, paper products, and other goods made from wood.

  6. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) : The GOTS certification applies to textile products that are certified organic and sustainably manufactured from start to finish. These products must adhere to strict ecological and social standards throughout the entire supply chain, including the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, trading, and distribution. Textiles including clothing, rugs, bedding, and other fabric items with the GOTS label will contain a minimum of 70% organic fibers.

    Eco-friendly stickers \u0026 labels: The future of branding

    Eco-friendly stickers \u0026 labels: The future of branding
    Eco-friendly stickers \u0026 labels: The future of branding

  7. Green-e : The Green-e certification program verifies clean energy and sustainable products and services. It applies to companies that use certified renewable energy in their manufacturing processes or purchase enough carbon offsets or renewable energy credits to match the emissions they produce. You’ll find the Green-e logo on a variety of household products from brands including Arm & Hammer, Herbal Essences, and more.

  8. GreenguardCertification : Greenguard Certification ensures that a product has low chemical emissions, promoting healthier indoor air quality. This label is often found on furniture, building materials, and household products that have been tested and verified to meet strict emission standards.

  9. Leaping Bunny : The Leaping Bunny certification is given to products that are cruelty-free and not tested on animals. This label indicates that the product and its ingredients were not involved in animal testing at any stage of development.

  10. OEKO-TEX Standard 100 : This certification focuses on textiles and ensures that the product does not contain harmful substances. It verifies that the product has been tested for various chemicals, including pesticides, heavy metals, and formaldehyde. Look for this label on clothing, bedding, and other fabric items.

  11. Rainforest Alliance Certified : This certification supports sustainable agriculture, forestry, and tourism. It ensures that the product was produced using environmentally and socially responsible practices, including protecting biodiversity and the rights and well-being of workers and local communities.

  12. USDA Organic : The USDA Organic label is used on food, beverages, and agricultural products. It indicates that the product has been produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or irradiation. To earn this label, products must meet strict organic farming and processing standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Remember, while these labels can be helpful in identifying more sustainable products, they should not be the sole factor in your purchasing decisions. It’s important to consider the overall sustainability practices of the company, as well as factors such as packaging, transportation, and the product’s lifespan. By being a conscious consumer and doing your research, you can make more informed choices that align with your values and contribute to a greener future.

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