ECO LABELS AND WHAT THEY MEAN

May 11, 2016

Every day we get bombarded with advertising and it is easy to see why so many people are very confused when it comes to labels. Just walk down the aisle of your local supermarket and you will see statements such as ‘Pure”, “Natural”, “Eco-friendly”, ‘Green’, ‘Sustainable’, ‘Healthy’.  Brands make claims to being environmentally friendly in highlighted text and graphics, but look a bit closer at the details and you may find not all products are what they claim to be.

 

 

 

Food labelling is a good example of the deceptive claims.  A product may be labelled ‘healthy’ because it has removed the fat, but the manufacturer has omitted to tell us it has been replaced by sugar. The same applies to claims about caring for the environment.

 

Non-accredited icons

Often you find these at the back of packages stating the environmental credentials of the product. Statements such as recyclable, water efficiency rating. Tissues, toilet rolls and kitchen paper can be a good example. Often they show images such as Pandas, green leaves and grasses, but no real accredited qualifications. You need to look for FSC® certification, which is internationally recognised as the most rigorous environmental and social standard for responsible forest management. Better still see if the tissue is made from bamboo or/and sugarcane, both sustainable crops.

 

If you want to learn a bit more about accreditation and standards, have a look at our article ‘CERTIFICATION - WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?’. - http://bit.ly/1WleoBz

 

Misleading labels

There are many products which have official looking symbols illustrated all over their labels, like ‘eco’ or ‘sustainable’ knowing consumers want to make a change and are considering the environment. When everyday products have such eco labels, it makes it very convenient rather than trying to find a speciality stores or health shops for such products.

 

An example of misleading advertising is free-range eggs. Did you know in Australia that the vast majority of free-range egg layers are crowded into sheds? True free-range are meant to have 10,000 birds per hectare (one square metre per bird). Often it is the smaller producers, like those producing organic and biodynamic eggs that are truly free-range.   

 

Read the ingredients

Yes, like food we should be reading what materials or ingredients are used in products labelled ‘green’ or ‘eco’.  Is all of the product eco-friendly or is it just a portion? Some products claim they are green because the packaging can be recycled. What you should note is not all products detail all of the constituents in their products.  This is where research is the key.  

 

It is never too late to learn

If you are new to making environmental changes, you are probably overwhelmed by all the things you need to know. You don’t have to know everything straight away. As I have said before, it is all about taking baby steps, and the way you can make these steps is by learning what makes a product eco-friendly. You need to learn things like:

  • Is it made from sustainable materials?

  • Can it be reused or recycled?

  • Is it biodegradable?

  • Is it organic and chemical free?

  • Made from natural materials?

  • Does it limit waste?

  • Is the product or it’s materials sustainable?

  • Does it have an energy star rating?

  • What is the carbon footprint for the product?

 

The power to make change belongs to us as consumers. By shopping local and in smaller shops, farmer’s markets and butchers, you are being eco-friendlier. There is less packaging, less waste and less marketing claims to confuse you. Often when you go to these local shops and markets, you are talking directly to the producer who can tell you exactly where the product has come from, so you can have an informed choice. A benefit of shopping like this, is you get to know your local shops and feel part of the community and you will make great friends.

 

I’m sure I have missed other items about eco labels that could be listed here. I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

 

Have an earthly passionate day,

Attracta & the earthly passion team

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