Making Sense of Green Product Labels

By Amishi Kumar, Green Purchasing Intern

green Labels
Common Ecolabels

One of the trending marketing ploys is the sudden emergence of all things green. I’m sure you’ve noticed the growth of environmentally friendly products in department stores, grocery stores, and malls. It is important to become familiar with the various branding efforts used by companies so you can decipher which products are more interested in the green in your wallet versus promoting a more sustainable, green product or service.

An easy and simple way of verifying the integrity of a product is to look for a valid third party certification or seal of approval. Many regulatory agencies and other external parties have realized the importance of providing objective assessments and quantifiable requirements for the protection of consumers. To obtain the seal or certification from these parties, the producer usually must pay a fee for testing and verification that their product meets a comprehensive list of requirements. Here is a list of some common “ecolabels”:


USDA Organic– Following the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, produce and livestock must raised with pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, and growth hormones to list a the top few requirements.

Fair Trade Certified– Overseen by FLO International, this certification ensures producers and handlers for various foodstuffs follow ethical practices.


Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)- This certification is voluntary and run by a not-for-profit organization that accredits forest managers, manufacturing companies, and controlled wood products for sustainable consumption of forest products.

Rainforest Alliance Certified– Through their Smartwood program, the Rainforest alliance examines supply chains, carbon validation, recycled wood, and logging practices.

Animal Protection

Leaping Bunny Cruelty Free– No animal testing during the development/product of various products i.e. household cleaners, cosmetics, and personal care products.

Dolphin Safe – The U.S. Department of Commerce certifies that no dolphins were purposefully netted or circled during the fishing of tuna.


One thought on “Making Sense of Green Product Labels

  1. Strive for 1st party certification when you can. Stand on your fisher’s boat. Breathe the air on your farmer’s farm. See the stumps in the woods where the boards came from and hear the mill cutting through…

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