How To Spot Third Party Verifications Of “Green”.

May 14, 2009

How can you know if you are really buying an eco-friendly product? While many everyday things we buy are not rated for their “green-ness”, there are tons that are. You just have to know what to look for! I have written in the past about organic labeling and certification, but here are a bunch more verification labels to be on the lookout for when you go shopping.

Green Seal – Green Seal certifies everything from coffee filters to air chillers. Our seal appears on products found in stores such as Office Depot, Whole Foods, and Lowe’s Home Improvement stores.

Fair Trade Certified/Transfair – The Fair Trade Certified Label guarantees consumers that strict economic, social and environmental criteria were met in the production and trade of an agricultural product. Fair Trade Certification is currently available in the U.S. for coffee, tea and herbs, cocoa and chocolate, fresh fruit, flowers, sugar, rice, and vanilla. TransFair USA licenses companies to display the Fair Trade Certified label on products that meet strict international Fair Trade standards.

U.S. Green Building Council – The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a 501 c3 non-profit organization committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings. Their mission is to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.

Scientific Certification Systems – SCS is a global leader in independent certification of environmental, sustainability, food quality and food purity claims. Over two decades, SCS has developed internationally recognized standards and certification programs aimed at spurring the highest level of environmental improvements, social accountability and product performance. Its programs span a wide cross section of the economy, recognizing accomplishments in agricultural production, food processing and handling, forestry, fisheries, flowers and plants, energy, green building, consumer and business product manufacturing, and corporate social responsibility.

ENERGY STAR – ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping us all save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. Results are already adding up. Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy in 2008 alone to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 29 million cars , all while saving $19 billion on their utility bills.

The Forest Stewardship Council – The Forest Stewardship Council was created to change the dialogue about and the practice of sustainable forestry worldwide. This impressive goal has in many ways been achieved, yet there is more work to be done. FSC sets forth principles, criteria, and standards that span economic, social, and environmental concerns. The FSC standards represent the world’s strongest system for guiding forest management toward sustainable outcomes. Like the forestry profession itself, the FSC system includes stakeholders with a diverse array of perspectives on what represents a well-managed and sustainable forest. While the discussion continues, the FSC standards for forest management have now been applied in over 57 countries around the world.

Leaping Bunny – The Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ (CCIC) Leaping Bunny Program administers a cruelty-free standard and the internationally recognized Leaping Bunny Logo for companies producing cosmetic, personal care, and household products. The Leaping Bunny Program provides the best assurance that no new animal testing is used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or suppliers.

Humane Farm Animal Care – The Certified Humane Raised and Handled program is the only farm animal welfare and food labeling program in the U.S. dedicated to improving the welfare of farm animals from birth through slaughter for the 10 billion farm animals raised for food each year.

VeriFlora-Certified Sustainably Grown – The VeriFlora Certified Sustainably Grown label is your guarantee that flowers and potted plants have been produced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner and meet the highest standards for freshness and quality. The farmers, distributors, wholesalers and florists who grow and handle VeriFlora flowers and plants are committed to delivering only the highest quality products, produced with rigorous environmental accountability while at the same time addressing the health and well-being of workers, their families and communities.

Green-e Green-e is the nation’s leading independent consumer protection program for the sale of renewable energy and greenhouse gas reductions in the retail market. Green-e offers certification and verification of renewable energy and greenhouse gas mitigation products. It is a program of the Center for Resource Solutions. external link

Chlorine Free Products – The Chlorine Free Products Association {CFPA} is an independent not-for-profit accreditation & standard setting organization. Our focus is promoting sustainable manufacturing practices, implementing advanced technologies free of chlorine chemistry, educating consumers on alternatives, and developing world markets for sustainably produced third party certified products and services. The CFPA has no financial interest in any manufacturer, or company, of the products it certifies.

Big Green G – Big Green G helps businesses go green with an easy step-by-step approach. Our trusted verification system gets your businesses noticed for each eco-friendly step you take, providing this information to environmentally conscious consumers so they can make eco-friendly shopping decisions.

Can you think of any others that need to be on the list? Let me know in the comments and I will add them in!

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Comments (6)

  1. Beth says:

    Great story. The WSPA has done a study of third-party animal welfare certifiers. Here is the listing for our program:

    “Animal Welfare Approved” http://www.AnimalWelfareApproved.org (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork)
    The newest humane food certification program is administered by the Animal Welfare Institute. This program currently has the most stringent animal welfare standards and includes certain animals not covered by other programs, such as rabbits and ducks. Animal Welfare Approved requires that all animals have regular access to the outdoors and prohibits physical mutilations like debeaking of hens and tail docking of pigs. This program also requires that producers be family farmers and does not allow producers that have dual humane and factory-farming operations to participate.

    Since this was written we have published standards for goat, sheep, duck and bison.

    Here is the link to the full report by the WSPA. Thanks!

    http://www.wspa-usa.org/pages/2164_food_labels_that_make_the_grade.cfm

  2. I recently learned about Greenguard Certification from a commenter on my blog. You can find Greenguard here: http://www.greenguard.org. They focus on indoor air quality and certify low-emitting products — everything from mattresses to curtains to countertops, building materials, and adhesives.

  3. This is a great post! Perhaps tackle the labels that say simply “farm fresh” or “all natural” and don’t actually mean anything?

    All the best,
    Fair and Green

  4. Carrie says:

    great post. i work at a printing company and i’m working on getting the company fsc certified right now.

  5. Mary K says:

    Wonderful post! You included a couple of certifications that I hadn’t heard about. My company has the Leaping Bunny seal of approval, and I just received the Green America Seal of Approval. This organization, formerly Co-op America, doesn’t certify per se, but there is a rigorous screening process for all companies they include in their network. They look at how companies support workers, communities, AND protect the environment.

  6. Erin says:

    While I guess it’s great that Leaping Bunny exits it states:

    “the best assurance that no NEW animal testing is used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or suppliers.”

    no NEW testing, but that does not mean that ingredients they may be using in their formulations have not been tested on animals… that’s why I think this one certification can be a bit deceptive.

    Many, many chemicals have already been tested on animals and it’s entirely possible that companies using the leaping bunny logo may have ingredients in their products that have been tested on animals… the ingredient were already tested, that’s why this is key: NEW testing