It is time to deflate the eco-label bubble.
Ecolabelling.org lists 33 different ways to tell prospective customers that your products are safe and friendly for the world.
And apparently 33 isn’t enough.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, or ASHRAE, plans on rolling out a new label that “would provide buildings with a sort of report card, or label, of their energy use, Earth2Tech says.
It’s only going to get worse When Wal-Mart begins labelling all its products to detail their effect on the environment, we’ll get some more labels. And we’ll surely get more labels to rival the Wal-Mart labels.
Enough already. Here’s a sampling of all the labels you probably already ignore, and what they’re supposed to mean.
Purpose: This eco-label is found on food products in the U.S. -- grown locally or abroad -- that are produced without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation.
Under organic laws, 5% of a USDA Organic-certified product could be made of non-organic substance, approved by the Department of Agriculture. Since it was created in 2002, that list has grown from 77 to 245 substances -- arguably under pressure from big corporations that want to cash in the billion-dollar business of organic products.
Purpose: Certifies products that contain no animal ingridients or animal by-products, and that have not been tested on animals.
Keeping the vegan diet enough without questioning whether a vegan label truly signifies that the product is vegan. There are plenty of copycats for the Certified Vegan Label, that slap 'vegan' signs on products without verification.
Purpose: The label identifies small farmers distributing through local channels - farmer's markets, roadside stands, local restaurants, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs and small local grocery stores.
This is an inexpensive alternative to the USDA Organic certification, which can rack up administrative fees in the thousands.
Purpose: The label means that food products are tested for pesticide residues, and that it sets limits of detection for each specific pesticide residues.
However, this label does not mean that there were no pesticides used. Somewhat misleading, wouldn't you agree?
Purpose: This label is found on food products by farmers who meet environmental standards that yield high quality products and preserve healthy land for future generations.
Land preservation while trying to make a living by farming is expensive. But since the organic and fairtrade market is growing, if Protected Harvest becomes popular, certified farmers might see returns on this environmental investment.
Purpose: Farms that meet the Salmon-Safe standards exercise water and erosion control, and use less (or no) chemical pesticides and fertilizers to preserve healthy streams and wetlands that important native salmon fisheries of the Pacific Northwest.The label appears on food products, and business facilities.
Since the organisation issues the certificates itself, quality control and verification of Salmon-Safe businesses could be questionable.
Also, Salmon-Safe doesn't mean organic.
Purpose: Found on food and retail goods, the FairTrade certification label identifies products that meet established labour and environmental standards. The label -- associated mainly with products imported from developing countries -- guarantees that workers and farmers are paid fair living wages, and that no child labour is used. Most popular FairTrade certified products are coffee and cocoa.
FairTrade labelling was criticism by The Economist in 2006 for ignoring the basic free market principles about supply and price. Since the label has artificially established a minimum price for coffee, producers may grow more of it to get the higher price. The increase of supply will cause the prices on the traditional market to fall, dooming farmers who are not certified as FairTrade producers.
Purpose: The label appears on products as an independent guarantee that disadvantaged producers in the developing world are getting a better deal.
Purpose: Certified restaurants use a comprehensive recycling system and free of polystyrene foam ('Styrofoam') products, among other requirements.
First, there should be a comprehensive recycling system and applicable laws as well as social responsibility in existance before restaurants can commit and abide them.
Purpose: EarthRight certification is designed to demonstrate commitment and progress toward eco-friendly business practices and significant environmental impact reduction.
Green business certifications are often confusing and involve a fee. This one is no different.
Purpose: The label is earned by businesses that use renewable energy, implement water-efficiency, and have effective recycling system.
The U.S. Postal Service is one of the 167 participants, and the only shipping company to be certified.
Purpose: Ecobrokers receive training on energy and environmental issues to effectively market green properties to clients.
The mission statement of this certificate fails to mention $400 for training and $130 annual membership fees.
Purpose: It certifies farming, wildcrafting, livestock, processing, packing, and handling operations.
This one has been around than most of the labels on this list, and it is accredited by the USDA Organic Program. Reportedly, only about 300 companies and products use it.
Purpose: It certifies farms as free of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers after a three-year transition and evaluation processes.
Purpose: The Leaping Bunny Program assures customers that no new animal testing and cruelty is used in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories, or suppliers.
However, products with the label are not necessarily vegan.
Purpose: The label is found on products, which render their entire carbon footprint neutral through the support of greenhouse gas reduction projects.
Popular in the UK and Australia, the carbon offset lifestyle choice is gaining ground at home. Since Certified Carbonfree is the only one currently visible in the U.S., it probably has no competition for donations and government support. Yet.
Purpose: It's a seal of approval guaranteeing consumers that the goods they are buying have been produced based on a set of criteria balancing ecological, economic and social considerations.
Most of the certified products are imports -- coffee, tea and bananas -- and also timber and tourism.
Purpose: The logo appears on products, reviewed by US EPA's scientific team for potential human health and environmental effects.
Has anyone seen this label?
Purpose: LEED is an internationally recognised green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.
Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions.
Purpose: New and remodeled homes certified as Earth Advantage ensures that the highest standards of energy efficiency, indoor air quality, resource efficiency and environmental responsibility are being met.
We bet that home remodelling will not be cheap. While environment resposibility and air quality could be questionable, the energy efficiency should show up on your electricity bill.
Purpose: The label identifies buildings and indoor products such as flooring, furniture, and maintenance materials, which chemical and particle emissions meet acceptable indoor air quality pollutant standards.
Greenguard has been criticised for basing its standards on out-dated studies, which focused only on commercial environments, although it also certifies homes that have much lower ventilation.
Purpose: The Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Star Certification Program recognises IPM practitioners who meet a high standard for pest control in schools, childcare centres and school-age programs.
Purpose: It promotes practitioners of effective, prevention-based pest control while minimising the need to use pesticides.
It sounds a bit contradictory but this badge of green honour is for pest control companies and professionals that use pesticides as a last resort.
These eco-lables supports the organic food industry in respective states by ensuring the integrity of organic food products through establishing organic standards and certifying organic producers, processors, and handlers.
Texas, Utah and Rhode Island also have their local organic certification programs.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.