Whether we like it or not, consumerism is a part of our lives that can’t entirely be avoided. Of course, there are things you can do to reduce the amount of stuff you purchase (reduce, reuse, recycle for example), there will be times where you have to buy things new. So, we want to be responsible consumers, but how do we know that what we are buying is truly green?
Whether you are purchasing a personal care product, groceries, or paper for your printer, there is a way to ensure that the items you choose are produced in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. Such items can be identified by their green product certifications! Green certification logos are displayed on product labels, allowing consumers to recognize which products adhere to their values.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed when you are trying to decipher all the different labels, certifications, and claims that catch your eye when shopping. As eco-friendly products increase in popularity, so does the amount of false and misleading environmental marketing claims. Companies are jumping on the green bandwagon without doing the hard work to actually become green.
Products may be labelled with words such as “eco-friendly,” “green,” “all-natural” and “organic” without actually reflecting these claims in their production or ingredients. This is called Greenwashing, and that is where trusted third-party certification systems come into play!
To help you out, I have a list of the largest, most credible certification programs that we all need to be looking for with our consumer products to ensure that we are buying green when it matters most.
ECOCERT is an organic certification organization that was founded in France in 1991. Since then, it has become one of the largest organic certification organizations in the world and conducts inspections in over 80 countries.
ECOCERT certifies food and food products, cosmetics, detergents, perfumes, and textiles. There are a variety of different certifications provided by ECOCERT which coincide with specific products and regions. For example, the Fair For Life certifications enables a product coming from Fair Trade to be commercialized worldwide, while the Quality and Origin Quebec certification allows businesses to market their wine with the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Quebec Wine.
Green Seal is another certification organization which certifies products, services, restaurants, and hotels. In order to get certified, a product or service provider must meet certain performance, health and sustainability standards.
These standards are based on a lifecycle approach, meaning that everything from raw material extraction to reuse or disposal is taken into consideration in the evaluation process.
If you’re looking for products or services that are Green Seal certified, check out their certified products and services page.
Forest Stewardship Council
Wood products that have the Forest Stewardship Council label on them ensure that sustainable forest management takes place, biodiversity of forests are conserved, and Indigenous peoples rights, knowledge, and values are respected.
Another long-standing independent, third party verification for products. It ensures that farming practices follow stewardship for the forest, climate, human rights and rural livelihoods. It covers foods, plants, and other consumer goods and services such as sporting goods and printing services.
Covering fruit, vegetables, coffee, tea, cocoa and a host of other consumables, the Fairtrade International has certified over a thousand products around the world aimed at sustainable development and alleviating poverty for farmers and producers.
Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
The go-to certification for sustainable seafood that has been around since 1997 is the Marine Stewardship Council and the blue fish logo can be found on seafood and fish products in the grocery store. Be sure to only buy these certified products when purchasing seafood at the grocery store.
Run through the Green Electronics Council, EPEAT verifies manufacturer’s claims about sustainability of electronic goods, assisting individuals, businesses and institutions make the most sustainable purchasing decisions when it comes to electronics.
While there are several other niche certifications that apply to certain industries, these are the biggest, and most credible ones around, so you won’t go wrong choosing products with these credentials, and it takes the guesswork out of shopping. So go ahead, and feel good about your purchase, these organizations have done the legwork for you to verify the sustainability claims, and you won’t fall victim to greenwashing!
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