The Truth About Green Product Labels

Living green, or sustainably, is about more than just saving on your electricity bill, and doing your bit to protect natural resources. It’s about creating a safer and healthier lifestyle without having to compromise on style, quality, or budget. 

Today, Tony Pratt, from The Sound Room, joins Marla once again, to talk about green labels. They will be explaining what green labels are, what they mean, and how to use them.

What are green labels?

Green labels are there to show us that there has been third-party certification for a product, an assembly, or even an entire building. They are proof that something has been certified, and truly is what it claims to be. If the third-party was not there, anyone would be able to do or say whatever they wanted to, about any product. 

Greenwashing

The term ‘greenwashing’ was coined about ten years ago. It’s used when someone thinks, or hopes, rather than knows, that a product is green. It is actually nothing more than marketing hype, or the misdirection of consumers because, although something is being claimed to be good for the environment, in reality, that may or may not be so.  

The FCC and greenwashing

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has put out rules about what you may say and claims that you may make, about a product. Also, there is a standard code of ethics for marketers, and the American Marketing Association has very specific rules that forbid marketers from making any unsubstantiated claims.

Using ‘green’ terms

Many people, even in the home-building industry, don’t fully understand what green terms mean. Nor do they understand their value. And they often don’t even know how to use the terms properly, so they tend to throw them around loosely, without understanding the consequences or the ramifications that are sure to follow. For example, a home that has Energy Star-certified, energy-efficient windows cannot be described as an energy-efficient home simply because it has an energy-efficient feature in it.

Certain terms have no real meaning to the FCC. Like the word ‘natural’, which is often used to describe food and personal care products. 

There are some very specific rules for using the word ‘organic’ to describe products. 

The goal of green labels is to be like the term ‘organic’ is, in the food industry, for products, materials, or even for entire homes. It is to give people something tangible, and reliable parameters, around that particular characteristic. 

Why green labels?

Green labels are there to help us to better understand what we’re buying or getting. 

Having peace-of-mind around energy-efficiency 

Many companies are doing things lately that are more sustainably-minded. It could be with the product itself, in the operations of the company, or both. So there are multiple levels on which we can choose to engage with companies that are doing things better. 

The green labels give us all the necessary guidelines to make sure that we’re doing something impactful, that will protect our families, ourselves, and our fellow human beings, without us having to do all the research. 

There are a lot of boutique dry cleaners that have sustainable dry cleaning. They often use fuel-efficient, natural gas or electric vehicles. 

Green labels for the home

A lot of the products that are being put out on Everyday Green Home- The Green Shop, have green labels on them. And for the products without the green labels, Marla has gone through the same vetting process that they used in the National Green Building standard, to ensure that those products meet the same requirements that they would have used in the Green Home certification.

Some smaller companies may not want to go through the certification process because it’s costly and time-consuming.

Green labels for the home cover everything from energy-efficiency, to water-efficiency, to resource-efficiency, to toxin-free products, and recycled materials.

Taking small steps

You can green your entire home, taking one small step at a time. Some smart steps to take in that direction are:

  • Energy Star – It covers 1000s of quality products, including complete home certification. Choose these products when you decide to upgrade or change anything electrical in your home.
  • Water Sense – It covers much the same for water as Energy Star does for energy. Choose these products when it’s time to upgrade or replace your washing machine, dishwasher, faucets, showerheads, or plumbing fixtures.
  • Green Guard – This certification tells you that a product, usually for woodwork or cleaning, has fewer toxins in it, and it meets California’s requirements for air quality.
  • Start taking control of the quality of the air you’re letting into the house. 
  • Cradle To Cradle is a new interesting, energy-saving concept, for both products and processes. The output from one process becomes the input for the next process. This is an efficient way to use resources. 

How green labels apply in other parts of our life, and for homes

The US Green Building Council has LEED (Leadership, Energy, and Environmental Design). It is available for homes. There is also the National Green Building Standard, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), as well as local and regional green building standards, like Green Build Texas, Green Build Washington, and Earthcraft Homes in the South-East.

And there are energy-efficient only certifications like Energy Star for homes and new homes, and Home Energy Ratings Score (HERS), which is a home energy ratings score index, or a scale of energy efficiency, which assesses the energy usage in a home and relates it to an existing home. 

Sustainability is about more than just the products

Sustainability is about society and living standards. It’s about how people are treated, and the wages they’re being paid. 

You’re going to start seeing a lot more of these green labels. They are out there to make your life easier. 

Links:

Energy Star – www.energystar.gov 

The Environmental Working Group – https://www.ewg.org/

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