I know that food labeling isn’t the friendliest and there’s already plenty of things you should be aware of in the list of ingredients etc, but if you are environmentally conscious, there are some eco-friendly seals and labels you need to familiarize yourself with. Texts and descriptions on food packaging can be non-distinct, unspecific and sometimes downright misleading. How do you really know if you are buying organic or fair trade for example? And it doesn’t just apply to food. How do you know if your furniture is made from sustainable wood or if any animals were harmed in the making of a particular product? Memorize these eco-friendly seals and labels and you’ll be better able to make informed buying choices whatever you’re buying. (Please note these are mainly US seals and labels)
1 Rainforest Alliance
One of the worst crimes man has committed against nature (and is still committing) is deforestation. The loss of the world’s rainforests has received great attention in recent years and various organizations promote products from the rainforest that do not harm the vital habitats. If you want to support rainforest friendly products, look for the Rainforest Alliance symbol. Rainforest Alliance certified products originate from farms and companies with a environmental ethic, protecting, water, soil and the wildlife, and providing the workers with education and health care. The Rainforest Alliance symbol is one of the few worldwide eco-friendly seals.
This is one of the eco-friendly labels I hadn’t heard of until researching this article, but I’m immediately a fan. The presence of the Demeter seal is a guarantee that the product is biodynamic. This means that the foodstuffs and wines have been produced in earth-friendly ways such as crop rotation and compositing. The long term health of the soil is a concern so homeopathic sprays are a favorite of producers proud to sport this seal.
3 Energy Star
One of the great things about buying household appliances in the UK is that they all have to display their energy rating which runs through an A-E scale. I’m not sure if you have something similar in the States, but one of the US earth friendly symbols you can definitely look out for is the Energy Star seal. The label was established by the Environmental Protection Agency and features on products that are more energy efficient than their counterparts – using up to 75% less energy without loss of performance.
4 Fair Trade
Another of the eco-friendly seals that appears – in different formats – in various countries around the world is the one that denotes a fair trade product. In the US, the symbol states Fair Trade Certified. It is a promise that the product – usually foodstuff – has been certified by Transfair USA to have been grown using eco-friendly agricultural methods and, importantly, that the farmers are receiving fair prices for their crops. Most typical fair trade products are bananas, coffee, chocolate, sugar and fruit.
5 Bird Friendly Coffee
As a nation of coffee lovers, you probably want to know that your coffee has been certified as fair trade, but you can go a step further and look for the Bird Friendly label too. Under the auspices of the Smithsonian Bird Institute, the label denotes that the coffee has been grown in a way to protect vital habitats for migrating birds. The coffee is grown under canopies of shade trees and is also certified as organic – bonus!
6 Green Seal
Among your concerns for the environment and the health of your home, self and family, you probably worry about the amount of chemicals in your daily life and in the world around you. We are totally surrounded by chemicals, but if you look for products wearing the Green Seal, you can rest easy that the symbol represents a low impact on the environment. The Green Seal represents that the product’s life cycle is as earth-friendly as possible from manufacture to disposal.
7 Forest Stewardship Council
This is another of our global eco-friendly seals. It isn’t only the rainforests that important to the Earth. All forests are important to the world’s health and in recognizing this, the Forest Stewardship Council was formed. Wood is used massively around the world for all sorts of products so we need to know that there is a program of sustainability to replace the trees we cut down. The presence of the FSC logo denotes the product has been made from trees harvested to certified standards.
I hope I have made your earth-friendly shopping a little easier and that you’ll look out for these eco-friendly seals and labels in future. I’d love to hear of other symbols and certifications – especially if you’re outside the US.