As we understand more about how the environmental impact of our lifestyles, we are being encouraged to shop for eco-friendly, and more sustainable products. The green economy keeps growing, with more companies opting for greener materials, biodegradable packaging, and renewable sources of production.
One such method of encouraging us to use more sustainable products is by ensuring products are properly accredited for being more eco-friendly. This has resulted in the creation of several “eco-labels” as well as many certifications. These certifications help consumers identify products that have met some sustainability criteria set by a third-party organisation or governing body.
We’ve created a list of trustworthy badges and certificates that you should look out for when looking for an eco-friendly or ethical product.
Ethical and Sustainable Labels You Can Trust
B Corp Certification
The B Corp Certification is given to organisations that meets a verified standard of social and environmental performance, as well as transparency on employee welfare, charitable giving, and overall business operations.
Businesses applying for B Corp Certification are required to through a rigorous verification process, called the B Impact Assessment, which involves documenting the businesses’ operations, customer sentiments, and even on-site visits. Certified B Corps are those that score higher than 80 on the B Impact Assessment.
The Rainforest Alliance certification is a widely recognised seal that you’ll probably recognise products such as chocolate or coffee.
The Rainforest Alliance seal is awarded to products that are produced using methods that support conservation and ethical production. Their standards focus on environmental protection, such as preventing deforestation, supporting human rights for workers, and ensuring rural farmers and forest communities have financial stability.
Independent auditors evaluate farmers prior to awarding or the certification.
Fairtrade Certification Mark
The Fairtrade certification is a set of standards ensures social, economic and environmental responsibilities are met. The Fairtrade logo means rights and fair pay for workers and farmers, and for consumers it means signifies that they are buying ethical products.
In order to use the Fairtrade mark on products and packaging, an independent organisation, called FLOCERT, checks that the Fairtrade Standards have been met.
93% of UK shoppers recognise the Fairtrade logo, which makes it one of the best ways for shops to identify ethical products.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international organisation that is committed to sustainable management of the world’s forests.
The FSC certification validates that an item that uses wood, paper or other forest products is made from responsibly managed forests. The FSC promotes forestry that ensures workers rights are upheld, biodiversity is maintained, and that the forestry methods are economically viable.
The FSC covers over 200 million hectares of forest, and is now the most used forest certification system.
Food that is grown, imported or sold that is marketed as being ‘organic’ in the UK must legally register and be certified by one of eight approved bodies.
The Soil Association is one of the most highly recognised bodies that certifies companies for using organic practices such as avoiding using pesticides, having a high level of animal welfare, and ensuring the produce doesn’t use toxic additives.
Choosing organic products has a range of benefits, as organically grown produce can improve soil fertility, increase biodiversity, and reduce agricultural carbon emissions.
Cradle to Cradle Certified
The Cradle to Cradle certification is a quality standard for products that are safe and responsibly made. Cradle to Cradle’s standards ensure that products are environmentally friendly, and socially ethical.
They measure products across five categories: material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness. Products must be re-assessed every two years for re-certification.
Brands that are Cradle to Cradle certified include Stabilo, G-Star RAW, and Pendleton Woolen Mills.
The OEKO-TEX label is for textile and leather companies to verify that their products are free from harmful substances, are environmentally responsible, and have been produced in socially ethical working conditions.
In order to be certified by OEKO-TEX, companies are required to be audited to ensure the materials they use are not harmful to human health or the environment.
The criteria for being certified is updated at least once a year to stay up to date new scientific knowledge or legal requirements.
1% for the Planet
1% for the Planet was created by the founder of popular ethical clothing brand Patagonia, with the aim of asking business to give at least one percent of their sales to environmental nonprofits to create a healthier planet.
Simply put, if you’re choosing a brand that has made the 1% for the Planet commitment, you can be sure that they are donating time and money to nonprofit partners who are dedicated to addressing our planet’s environmental issues.
Many large businesses and individuals including Pukka, professional climber Alex Honnold, and singer Jack Johnson contribute their salary.
Cruelty Free International
Cruelty Free International are dedicated to ending animal experiments around the world. The recognisable Leaping Bunny logo assures consumers that a brand has made a commitment to help end animal testing.
Cosmetics and chemicals are tested on animals through force-feeding and rubbing on exposed skin. Animals are then killed once testing is complete.
Buying products that are certified with the Leaping Bunny logo ensures that company does not test its products on animals.
Fake Eco-Friendly Labels
Many companies use greenwashing tactics such as using labels like the ones below to make their products seem more environmentally friendly. You can spot fake eco-labels by looking for non-specific claims like “Earth Friendly” or “Eco”.
It can be difficult to differentiate products with actual accreditations to those with generic badges, as so many companies now use them.
Why Use Eco-Friendly Labels?
Eco-certification clearly helps consumers decide which product would be best for them but there are other advantages as well. For example, certification processes creates more jobs for auditors and will help to encourage companies to become more environmentally responsible. Businesses will hire qualified workers to help create cleaner green alternatives.
Choosing products that are certified by a trusted organisations will help you to ensure that your clothing, food and day-to-day products are produced ethically, with consideration for workers’ rights, the environment, and the communities within which these products are made.