Greenwashing: Do You Know a Real Green Label from a False One?
If you aren’t familiar with greenwashing, then you might want to familiarize yourself with the Seven Sins of Greenwashing. However, while the sins cover careful label reading and researching on products and companies, this article is to offer help on one particular sin: The Sin of Worshipping False Labels.
When you shop for green products, you’ll most likely keep an eye out for certain labels, such as organic, cruelty free, or the recycle symbol. Have you ever noticed different symbols on different products, such as 2 different products using 2 cruelty free symbols? Guess what, one of them is probably greenwashing by using a false label. Here is a list of some of the more common labels you might see. These labels are the correct ones and can definitely be trusted:
Certified Vegan: “The Certified Vegan logo is a registered trademark signifying that products are vegan, defined here as containing no animal ingredients or by-products, using no animal ingredients or by-products in the manufacturing process, and not tested on animals by any company or independent contractor. The logo is administered by the Vegan Awareness Foundation, also known as Vegan Action, a nonprofit organization promoting veganism.”
Fair Trade Certified: “The Fair Trade Certified™ standards aim to ensure that farmers and farm workers in developing nations receive a fair price for their product; have direct trade relations with buyers and access to credit; and encourage sustainable farming methods, without the use of a dozen of the most harmful pesticides, and forced child labor. To bear the label, products must be grown by small-scale producers democratically organized in either cooperatives or unions.”
Green Seal: “Green Seal is an independent organization whose purpose is to set standards for and certify a wide variety of environmentally sound products. Its standards are designed to address the environmental impacts of a product from manufacturing to use to disposal. Green Seal standards for paper products include criteria in four areas: for performance, environmental impact, packaging, and labeling.”
Leaping Bunny: “The Leaping Bunny logo signifies that the product is made by a company that adheres to the Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals, developed by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics, a coalition of animal protection groups. The CCIC’s purpose is to promote a “cruelty-free” standard and logo. The Corporate Standard of Compassion for Animals is a pledge by a company not to conduct or commission animal testing of their product/ingredients, after the date of the agreement.”
Rainforest Alliance Certified: “Rainforest Alliance (RA) follows standards set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN)(also formally known as the Conservation Agriculture Network) that are designed to promote tropical conservation and steer commercial agriculture practices in the tropics. Rainforest Alliance verifes that certified products have been grown using environmentally responsible management practices including integrated pest and disease management practices , soil and water conservation, fair labor treatment practices and good community relations.”
USDA Organic: “The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed a fixed set of standards that must be met by anyone using the “organic” label in the United States. There are 3 categories a product may fall under: 100% Organic, which are products that can only contain organically produced ingredients; Organic, which are products that contain 95% organically grown ingredients and 5% non-organic ingredients approved on the National List; or Made With Organic Ingredients, which are products that contain 70% organic ingredients and 30% non-organic ingredients approved on the National List.”
These are only a few of the labels you can trust. To find out more about greenwashing and trusted green labels, check out these sites:
Consumer Reports: Greener Choices Eco-Labels Center – Search or browse through labels and find out how green they really are.
By Heidi Marshall