An Eco Lesson on How to Read Green Labels

Posted on Friday, March 20th, 2009 in Uncategorized
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There are many green labels out on the market today, understanding the meaning of the label should help the consumer determine whether the product is worth purchasing or not. I was reading an article in Good Housekeeping on How to Read Labels Right and I thought this might be a great way to get some feedback if other green shoppers agree on the following statements when purchasing their green products.

Organic – Ingredients are produced without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, growth hormones, antibiotics, etc. It is produced in the most natural state as possible. Items that generally bear this label include food products, household cleaners, fibers such as cotton and wool, cosmetics and personal care products. This label is regulated by the government. Individuals can look for “USDA organic” seal except for food products where “organic” is most commonly used. Producing organic products does help reduce the use of toxic chemicals that can harm the environment and possibly cause health risks. Purchasing organic products is definitely worth it as it has the most impact on the planet and individuals. All of our mens and women’s bamboo fiber for the bamboo fabric clothing listed from Global Ghetto Organics is USDA and OCIA certified organic. These items include the mens and women’s native hooded sweat, ecothermal, long and short sleeve tee’s, and women’s yoga wear from Global Ghetto Organics.

Biodegradable – Once an item is disposed it can decompose into substances that can safely be reabsorbed into the soil. Household cleaners, personal care products and plastics commonly bear this label. The government does not regulate standards for this claim; however, some major retailers use Scientific Certification Systems or a private company to certify claims. Look for a seal of approval. Plastics should state that the product is “compostable”. Biodegradable products help to reduce our landfills and pollution in soil and water. Purchasing these products would be a good green decision.

Non-toxic – Ingredients which pose no health risks. Household cleaning products generally contain this label. This label claim is not regulated by government standards. This label is controversial as some consumer health activists have varying opinions on what is noted as safe from the manufacturer. Purchasing non-toxic items does not bear a great significance on the green industry and may not be as worthwhile.

Natural – Natural meat and poultry are minimally processed with not artificial flavor, coloring or chemical preservatives. Other items listed natural do not contain a clear definition. Products that contain this label are food, household cleaners, clothing, cosmetics, and personal care products. There are government standards in place for meat and poultry, other items are not regulated. It is a good to purchase natural meat, but for other items you may want to investigate the definition of natural to make sure it is a wise purchasing decision. Some manufactures may use the term “natural” too loosely for the claim to have any real meaning.

DEA free – Products that do not contain DEA (diethanolamine), a substance linked to cancer in animal studies. Household products and personal care products contain this label. There is no government standards for this claim. Although there has not been a link to cancer established in humans, the risk of cancer is constantly on the rise. Avoiding DEA may be beneficial if you are worried about potential health risks.

Environmentally safe – Products that are not harmful to the environment. Most common products with this claim are household cleaners and personal care items. This claim is not measured by government standards. Environmentally safe products carry a vague definition. It may be better for the environment but not 100%, as even the organic products affect the environment and require a carbon based footprint to transport them. Depending on the product you could use your judgement if it is a beneficial green product.

Sustainable – Sustainable products are made with renewable resources, such as forests harvested using methods to protect soil, water, and plant and animal life. Common products are wood, paper and latex products and carry a FSC seal that is granted by the Forest Stewardship Council. If you purchase sustainable products, watch for the seal of approval to help take better care of our forests. It is definitely worthwhile making a sustainable purchase.

Check out our classic high tops and low tops by Autonomie Project that are certified by the FSC and Fair Labeling Organization.

No CFC’s – Products that do not contain CFC’s (chlorofluorocarbons), which are chemicals that damage the Earth’s protective ozone layer. This is claim does not meet government standards. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) banned CFC’s in consumer products long ago. CFC free products may contain other harmful ingredients. It is not worthwhile purchasing a product based solely on CFC free, be sure to read all ingredients to make sure you are making a good purchase.

No parabens – These products do not contain parabens (chemical preservatives), which can interfere with endocrine function. Cosmetics, personal care products and pharmaceutical industries carry this label and it is not regulated by government standards. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) state that parabens don’t pose a health risk at low levels. Some doctors suspect a possible link to breast cancer. If you are a health conscious individual you may be wise to purchase products that do not contain parabens.

Non-polluting – There is no clear definition. Some household cleaners may contain this claim. It is not a regulated label by the government. This label is very vague and you may want to concentrate on purchasing organic or biodegradable products instead.

Recycled – Products that contain some recycled content. Paper products and office supplies are most common for carrying this label claim. Recycled label is not regulated by government standards. Recycled products are important especially if it contains 30% or more post-consumer content and is an excellent purchasing option.

I would love to gather any feedback in regards to products purchased and its relationship to the labeling.

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