Inside Consumer Eco Labels | Sierra ClubJanuary 10, 2021
Standardized eco and organic labels aren’t just for groceries and personal care items anymore. Yes, consumer products have long been touting Earth-friendly attributes, but it’s not always easy to suss out the greenwashing and gauge a brand’s true dedication to minimizing its manufacturing, packaging, and transportation footprints; sourcing ethically; and otherwise making its contributions to consumerism more “worth it”—especially when those steps require additional time and money. Luckily, several standardized eco labels have cropped up in recent years. Stamped on product packaging or online, they intend to help consumers identify those products that meet specific environmental performance criteria—whether a given label’s focus lies on a single lifecycle stage, or a product’s entire lifecycle.
Vowing to make 2021 a year of more conscientious consumption? Next time you’re shopping, turn to this eco label primer to decipher the true meaning behind six prominent eco labels.
B Corporation Certification doesn’t only evaluate a product or service—it assesses the positive impact of a company as a whole. To attain B Corp certification, an organization must meet strict standards for how it treats its workers, affects its community, and stewards natural resources. Its performance on social and environmental goals is also made public. After outdoor industry do-gooder Patagonia became a B Corporation in 2012, for instance, the company expanded its staff’s medical coverage as well as paid maternity and paternity leave for employees.
The first 82 B Corps were certified in 2007, and now number 3,637 businesses—including outdoor mainstays like Cotopxi and Klean Kanteen—in 74 countries, across 150 industries. Certification processes and requirements may differ based on company size and structure, but the overarching objective is to move toward a more ecologically regenerative and socially inclusive economy. It doesn’t just prove where a company excels at this moment; B Corps are committed to building long-term impact on all stakeholders into a company’s legal structure. Curious whether your fave brands are on board? Check out the B Corp directory.
A lot of companies these days are claiming carbon neutrality. Now, Climate Neutral has standardized the claim. Launched in early 2019 by two founding brands—BioLite and Peak Design—Climate Neutral works to decrease global carbon emissions by incentivizing brands to measure, offset, and reduce the carbon they release. The nonprofit organization offers participating brands a set of tools to accurate measure their carbon emissions across Scope 1 (direct fossil fuel usage), Scope 2 (indirect from the generation of purchased electricity, steam, heating, and cooling), and Scope 3 (all other indirect emissions in a company’s value chain); sets clear guidelines for carbon offsetting, and directly problem-solves with individual companies to reduce their…