Thursday, July 24, 2008

What's In A Name - Eco Labels and Logos

What's in a name (that is a famous quote of some sort isn't it)? With the enormous influx of new Eco-labels on our foods, cleaners, wood products, paper products, etc, there is a lot to a name. And sometimes nothing to a name at all.
I was becoming very confused by so many of the labels and logos I was seeing appear on many of the products I buy, and it is important to me to try and make a good choice as far as nutrition and enviro friendliness. Thankfully there are no labels on the sprinkled covered donuts!
So I started to do some research. I was greatly surprised to learn that many of the labels we see on the shelves of the store mean nothing, they are not verified by any legislation, there are no clear guidelines, and manufactures can use them willy-nilly.
Now that is not with all Eco-labels or course, there are reliable processes for Certified Organic, Fair Trade, and many others. I am certainly not saying that it is total anarchy. But it is interesting to learn that many of the labels, and claims on products today have a slight odor of greenwashing.
For instance;
Environmentally friendly often seen on cleaners means nothing really, no government body regulates that statement. It is a general claim, it implies no harm to the environment but there is no standard for the definition. So it could mean anything from it won't explode to it is beneficial to the repairing of the ozone? Who knows.
Eco-Safe, again means nothing. Often on cleaners and personal care products. No way to determine if it is any safer than anything else.
Cruelty free, usually on personal care products. No one regulates or verifies. Parts of the product could be as gentle as the summer breeze on the little bunny's behind, other parts of it may blind the poor bugger. Who is to say.
There are Eco-labels popping up on everything. Even my wine! I noticed the other afternoon, I mean evening, that wine is now sporting the ever popular Eco-label. There is organic grown wine, bird friendly grown wine meaning that the orchards are maintained a way that are friendly to birds. But why on earth would my wine have a salmon-safe label?
Apparently, this is to certify wine that is grown on hillsides is done in a sustainable manner so as to not disturb the streams down below, and therefore maintaining the sustainability of the salmon systems within.
Are we going to start labeling everything? Is there going to have to be a whole new body of regulatory beings that certify and audit our labeling system as a society. Will the Eco-Label mania spread from food, cleaners and paper to everything. Will we labeling everything to state it's connection to the earth.
I was thinking for my kids I could label them Certified Humane Raised and Handled. But wouldn't you know that label has a certification process...I guess we will just have to go with Dolphin Safe.


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