By Hannah Spaan
Trying to buy eco-friendly products should be easy, but how do you know what is actually good for you and the planet? There are nearly as many shades of green as there are so called green products, making it challenging to know what's green and what's green washing. To make it more confusing,which ones really have an impact?
Independent, third party certifications can help you navigate, but what do they mean? To help, we've compiled a simplified glossary of the most popular certifications we come across. Understanding each certification’s significance can be a valuable resource when it comes to choosing products.
For example, What's Good is a Green America Certified Business, this indicates to consumers that we have proven to this third party certifying agency that we not only use our platform to improve quality of life by helping the planet, communities, employees and especially our customers, but that the equipment we use, the office supplies we buy, and the energy we consume is focused on the health of our employees, customers, and planet.
Here are some of the top certifications commonly found on some of our products:
Companies that are a B Corp try to solve social and environmental problems. They meet comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards, institutionalize stakeholder interests, and build collective voice through the power of a unifying brand.
This certification ensures products are truly compostable.
The Blue Angel promotes the concerns of both environmental protection and consumer protection. Products and services with this certification are particularly beneficial for the environment in an all-round consideration and fulfill high standards of occupational health, safety and fitness for use.
This shows increasing awareness of product emissions and recognizing companies that are compensating for their carbon footprint.
This means the product contains no animal ingredients or by-products, uses no animal ingredients or by-products in the manufacturing process, and not tested on animals by any company or independent contractor.
Shows safe and sustainable products made for the circular economy. The product is approved in material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.
This certification shows energy-efficient products that save money, energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Products with this certification don't contain ingredients that cause health, ecotoxicity and/or contamination concerns. They also provide a list of all ingredients included and the product manufactures have good practices that ensure the safety of their products.
This shows customers that the company uses equitable trade practices at every level of the supply chain, ensuring fair treatment, prices and environmental impact.
This ensures that products come from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social and economic benefits.
This certification shows that the product was evaluated by scientists and engineers. They make sure there is reduction of water and energy use in manufacturing and product usage, ingredient and product safety, reduction in packaging, and the brand's corporate social responsibility.
Green America certifies businesses who use their platform for social change. These businesses strive to improve quality of life by helping the planet, communities, employees and especially their customers.
This certification signifies commitment to positive global change, mark of sustainable products and operations.
Green Seal supports life cycle-based sustainability standards for products, services and companies and offer third-party certification for those that meet the criteria in the standard.
This shows there has been no animal testing from all stages of product development.
This verifies that the product has been produced according to rigorous best practices for GMO (A genetically modified organism is any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques), avoidance, including testing of risk ingredients.
Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and improve livelihoods by promoting and evaluating the implementation of the most globally respected sustainability standards.
The EPA approves of safe ingredients, reviews products for risks such as chemicals and toxic hazards.
This label means that the ingredients of the product come from renewable biological sources. The USDA Certified Biobased product label lists the actual percentage of biobased content in each product.
This certification shows that the methods used for the product integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering were not used.
Hannah Spaan is a Senior Entrepreneurship major at the University of Rochester. She works at NextCorps helping startup companies develop and grow. Hannah is very passionate about the environment and enjoys educating others on how to make eco-friendly decisions.