Sustainable Purchasing: Understanding Ecolabels
February 10, 2023
What are Ecolabels?
Ecolabels are environmental certification logos used on products to indicate that they have been produced in an environmentally conscious way. These labels inform consumers of the environmental impact of a product allowing them to make a more informed purchase decision. Although the requirements for receiving an ecolabel vary depending on the institution granting them, common standards include conserving energy and resources, reducing waste and pollution, and protecting wildlife and natural habitats. Some of these labels also focus on social impact.
Examples of Ecolabels:
The following section will include examples of common eco certifications and their classifications.
FSC: The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label is for products made from responsibly managed forests. The FSC label is designed to assure customers that the products they purchase have been produced in an ethically, socially responsible, and economically viable way. It certifies that the forest where the wood was harvested adheres to environmental, social, and economic standards. These standards include safeguarding wildlife and their habitats, ensuring that the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities are upheld, and promoting sustainable forest management techniques. Ultimately, the FSC label offers consumers a simple way to recognize and buy products with a lower environmental impact while supporting forest conservation and responsible forest management.
Green Seal: The Green Seal label is a mark of a product’s environmental leadership, demonstrating that it has undergone a thorough assessment and adheres to strict environmental and human health standards. The standards set by Green Seal cover a wide range of environmental and public health concerns, such as the efficient use of resources, toxic chemical reduction, and waste reduction. The certification program covers a variety of products, including janitorial and cleaning supplies, toiletries, and office supplies. The Green Seal objective is to encourage manufacturers to create products that are better for the environment while also educating consumers about the environmental impact of the products they buy.
Energy Star: The Energy Star label certifies that a product complies with the Environmental Protection Agency’s stringent energy efficiency standards. The label covers a wide range of products, including heating and cooling systems, lighting products, consumer electronics, appliances, and both commercial and residential structures. By educating consumers about product energy consumption and motivating manufacturers to create more energy-efficient products, Energy Star aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy efficiency. By opting for Energy Star Certified products customers can lower their carbon footprint and save money on their energy bills.
Certified B Corporation: A certified B Corporation is a certification that is designated to a business that meets high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. The non-profit organization B Lab awards the B Corp certification, which is meant to recognize businesses that strike a balance between their financial objectives and efforts to improve society and the environment. B Corps are held accountable to these standards through ongoing audits and must meet strict requirements in areas like community engagement, employee treatment, and environmental sustainability. Consumers can quickly identify businesses that are dedicated to bringing about positive social and environmental change thanks to the B Corp certification, which also offers businesses a framework for enhancing their operations.
LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is a green building rating system that assesses a building’s environmental performance as well as its effects on human health. The LEED rating system, created by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), offers a framework for creating and maintaining high-performance, sustainable structures. In order to earn a LEED certification, a building must meet a number of environmental standards, including those for energy efficiency, water use, material use, indoor environmental quality, location, and accessibility. Buildings are given points for how well they perform in each of these categories, and depending on how many points they receive, they can receive certifications at various levels (such as Certified, Silver, Gold, or Platinum). Architects, builders, developers, and building owners use LEED because it is a globally recognized symbol of a building’s commitment to sustainability.
Rainforest Alliance Certified: Sustainable farming and harvesting practices are recognized by the ecolabel Rainforest Alliance Certified. The Rainforest Alliance, a nonprofit organization that works to preserve biodiversity and guarantee sustainable livelihoods, provides the certification. The certification proves that the goods were made with consideration for the environment, safeguarding fauna and their habitats, preserving soil and water, and promoting worker and community welfare. The label covers a variety of products including coffee, tea, chocolate, fruit, and wood products. The Rainforest Alliance Certified program aims to advance sustainable forestry and agriculture practices and give customers a simple means of identifying and buying goods with a reduced environmental impact.
Why Does it Matter?
Ultimately, ecolabels are a great way to identify products and services that consider the environment. They help consumers get a better understanding of the environmental impact of products and allow them to make more informed purchasing decisions. It’s also important to remember that although eco labels are great, they are not perfect, so when it comes to buying a product you love, take the time to do your own research so that your values are aligned with what you support!
Written by content creator volunteer Ghannush Nithiyanantham
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