Buzzwords like “natural,” “eco-friendly” and “sustainable” frequently show up on packaging, but what do they mean? If a product says “organic,” is it really?
Labeling can get downright confusing, and U.S. marketers take advantage of the fact that many consumers make purchases based on a certain word or “green-looking” graphics. That’s why third-party testing and certification processes were developed — to create sustainable standards that consumers can trust.
This Ecolabel Index defines 449 labels (wow!) that speak to a variety of eco-conscious products or company. Below, I’ve selected 10 pretty common ones to seek out in your everyday consumer lives.
Certified Green Restaurant® Make greener choices when you dine out. Restaurants with this seal meet standards of sustainability in resource efficiency, waste reduction and sourcing local foods.
Certified Humane Raised and Handled This label ensures that the farm animals raised for your eggs or meat were treated humanely (clean, safe environment; no cages or stalls; access to quality food and water; not given antibiotics or growth hormones).
FAIRTRADE Used internationally, products with this label meet social, economic and environmental standards (frequently used in the coffee and chocolate industries). This system supports small-scale farmers and artisans in developing countries, treating them fairly and providing economic opportunities.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-Certified Focused on responsible management of our forests, FSC guidelines assures their products (mainly paper and wood) have been derived sustainably in ways where logging does not destroy forests and the biodiversity of wildlife supported by them.
Green-e Marketplace The Green-e logo recognizes organizations that use certified renewable energy (wind, solar, etc.) in an effort to reduce climate change. Supporting such businesses (like Aveda, Office Depot and Kendall-Jackson) reduces your own carbon footprint and supports the development of renewable energy sources.
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Fabrics with this label contain between 70-95% certified organic fibers, and manufacturing processes meet environmental criteria, especially around water and energy consumption.
Non-GMO Verified Seal No genetically modified organisms in this food, Baby!
OEKO-TEX® Standard This label means a textile has passed testing for harmful substances, including carcinogens, formaldehyde, plasticizers, heavy metals, pesticides and allergenic dyes.
SCS Sustainable Choice This label represents certification from SCS Global Services, which rigorously assesses companies in areas of responsible forestry, sustainable agriculture, recycled content, biodegradability and more. Products include furniture, flooring, jewelry, office supplies and household cleaners.