How do you check if a product is eco-friendly?

Look for third-party certifications that examine sustainable and environmentally friendly products in all categories. Project-verified, fair-trade certified, USDA organic, and verified by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), B-Corp, Made Safe, and Cradle to Cradle are good starting points. One of the most reliable ways to assess a company's respect for the environment is to see how reputable external organizations judge it. Check their website or the product label for ecological certifications.

Specifically, look for Energy Star (for energy efficiency), the USDA Organic Seal (for organic products), the Forest Stewardship Council (for products made from trees in responsibly managed forests) and the Green Seal (for overall sustainability). The best way to determine if a product is environmentally friendly is to rely on a third-party certification. Look for products with labels from trusted organizations that assess the environmental impact of each item. For example, Green Seal is a nonprofit organization that conducts a rigorous scientific analysis of the overall impact of products.

Another accredited certifier is the Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), which analyze aspects such as recycled content, organic ingredients and sustainable forestry. Products certified as Energy Star by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must meet minimum energy savings criteria. Ecologo is a certification program led by the Canadian government and recognized around the world.

A good place to classify the different labels is the Consumer Reports GreenerChoices website. The EcoLabel Index also has an excellent resource that describes 456 different eco-labels. The more specific the statement, the more likely it is to be true. Vague terms such as “natural”, “environmentally friendly”, “non-toxic” and even “biodegradable” that appear on product labels are not regulated by the FDA and can therefore be extremely misleading.

While the law requires labels to be truthful, companies can choose what facts they want to highlight and touch up. For example, since there is no law that requires the amount of authentic fruit to be included in a product “made with real fruit”, the product may contain only one grape or one slice of apple. The best option is to completely ignore the claims on the front of the package and look closely at the ingredients, or do a little more research to find out the truth. Although many of these certifications are not perfect, they are a good starting point to delve into the true “greenness” of a product.

To make matters even more complicated, shoppers have to take much of the information provided about the products with reservations. A quick Internet search can also provide you with links to manufacturers of all kinds of organic products. Many companies will try to trick you into thinking that their products are environmentally friendly with an earth-toned container or a label with the illustration of a tree. While organic products are only part of the offer of major retailers, you can probably find local companies that are dedicated only to buying organic products.

Mario Krakowsky
Mario Krakowsky

Mario is a dedicated writer with over 15 years of experience in home remodeling, possesses an innate passion for transforming spaces and giving life to homes. His deep industry knowledge, coupled with practical insights, has made him a trusted source of inspiration for DIY enthusiasts and professional remodelers alike.