Products on shelves today have more eco-label flair than a casual-dining restaurant’s employee of the month. This week alone, announcements for a Good Company Seal and a new “Clean Water Wash” label for Gap Inc. jeans were announced, adding to the explosion of new certifications. As organizations create countless standards using different measures and methodologies, how can consumers know which products are “best” or which companies are truly “good?” And with so many certification options, how do companies themselves know which to pursue?
For companies or products that focus on environmental responsibility and value the credibility certifications can provide, any new standard or label is something they will examine. But which are the best? Which are most relevant to your consumer? And how many is too many? At some point, your target customers become overwhelmed and unaffected, so it is important to qualify all the options before jumping in. It won’t make sense to chase after every “latest and greatest” environmental label or certification, as most require a rigorous verification process that companies must commit to, which can mean a large investment of time and money.
When deciding which certification to pursue for your organization or product, do your research. Consider the criteria Consumer Reports uses to evaluate eco-labels which include:
Meaningful and verifiable: Check for an independent 3rd party inspection organization.
Consistent and clear: Standards should be written in a way that can be verified in a consistent manner so that the label is consistent in meaning among different products.
Transparent: The organization behind an eco-label should make information about organizational structure, funding, board of directors, and certification standards available to the public.
Don’t treat your eco-labels as flair on your sash. Think strategically to determine which label is the best fit for your organization.