5 Eco-Labels to Help You Be a Conscious Consumer
Ever wanted to know just how to distinguish sustainable products from their unsustainable counterparts? Eco-labels play a big part in that. You may have already heard of such labels as USDA organic and/or Fair Trade, but there's loads more that can help you determine which products have sustainable features, and which don't.
Sure, this system isn't perfect - some eco-labels aren't enforced and others fall short of their original expectations. Because they aren't all created equal, we've put together a list of our top 5 to sort through some of the mess.
Like the USDA organic and Fair Trade labels, this is another pretty well known one. It's a response to the rampant animal testing in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries, and although you won't find this logo on meds, you can look for it on personal care products. Everything from shampoo to face wash to makeup might have it, so be on the lookout next time you hit up the drugstore.
It’s given to companies that don’t do animal testing during any stage of the creation of a product, so including during the manufacturing process. It’s not given to companies that do any third party testing (meaning that they have someone else do their animal testing for them, but they don’t do it directly) or those that are sold in China, where animal testing is required by law.
Something to mention is that there isn't just one bunny though. Kind of annoying, right? But fear not! An old post we did lays out the differences between bunny logos (bet you never thought you’d need a bunny chart.)
Like the USDA organic logo, Ecocert is also an organic farming label. The difference is that this is an international label. Even though it started in France, it's now used in over 80 countries as a way of distinguishing organic products from their non-organic counterparts. It isn't only used on food by the way. It can also be used on perfume, detergent, textiles, and cosmetics. Pretty badass, right?
Even more badass is the fact that they also have a fair trade label (uncreatively) named Fair Trade by Ecocert. The Ecocert Fair Trade label can be used for the same types of products mentioned above, so this one is basically a double whammy. And in case you don’t know what Fair Trade is, it’s basically telling you that the product you’re buying has been made in an ethical way. So if you’ve ever been concerned by news about sweatshops or modern day slavery, then this label will def be of interest to you.
Ever heard of palm oil? Yeah...most of us haven’t, even though it’s in everything from food to shampoo to soap to laundry detergent. Despite being an overused resource that's led to deforestation, wildlife endangerment, and human rights abuses, the issue of palm oil isn't mainstream knowledge quite yet (not to go too hipster on you.) The International Palm Oil Free Certification Accreditation Program (since that’s a long ass name, use POFCAP for short) is seeking to change that by creating the first global palm oil free label.
Despite being new to the market, it’s already been applied to a buttload of products, like Enjoy Life food bars, Studio Voodoo vegan cheese (yes, you read that right), and Pure Ratbag soaps. To top it all off, the program donates its profits to rain forest conservation projects in order to protect the habitat of species that are threatened by the palm oil industry.
04. B Corporation
While normally I would advise you to trust no B, the B Corporation label is one that should be on your radar (in a good way). This label focuses on responsible business by including more than a financial bottom line. It envisions a comprehensive business model that is also transparent, and focuses on both social and environmental issues. Which totally makes sense! Let’s try to remember that sustainability focuses as much on social and economic shit as environmental shit.
So basically, if you’re looking for an eco-label that emphasizes corporate accountability, this is one of the biggest ones. Well known corporations like Athleta and Danone are certified, but you’ll have to check out the B Corporation website to see the long ass list of over 2,000 businesses that have this certification. If you’re looking to save time, you can always just search for companies if you’ve got a specific one on your mind.
05. Certified Vegan
Vegan is one of those words most of us know, but maybe we aren’t looking for vegan goods, and/or don’t know how to find them. The Vegan certification is an easy and memorable label that lets you know a product doesn’t have any animal ingredients or byproducts. It also is only given if there were no animal ingredients or byproducts used during the manufacturing process, and is also another cruelty free label (look out Leaping Bunny).
Maybe you’re not sure why you should care whether a product is vegan or not. Besides the yuck factor (I personally don’t want animal guts in my soap), and addressing animal exploitation (I’ll try not to channel PETA too much), overuse of animals as resources has led to quite a few environmental problems. Some of these you may have heard of, like waste from factory farms polluting rivers, but others are a bit weirder and don’t get mentioned in the media as often (like...um...cow flatulence.)
We’re not asking you to go on a full vegan diet, but maybe next time you need hair conditioner or something you could consider looking for this logo.
Obviously this list is just the tip of the iceberg as far as eco-labels go. You can always check out Ecolabel Index to get the tea on any eco-labels you’re curious about, or if you want to see the shitload that exist out there. Either way, we hope that this list has opened your eyes a bit and lets you #protectyourwild next time your shopping!
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By Darian Williams, ALDA's Blog and Digital Marketing Specialist Intern