You might be wondering what benefit or value add all the various certifications you see on ethical and sustainable products provide. Sometimes they can be downright confusing. I’m here to make sense of these certifications for you, so next time you come across “GOTS” or “C2C”, you know what it means.
Knowing your way around certifications and buying products with certifications helps you avoid being a victim of green washing. Green washing is a term used when a company or brand falsely promotes eco-friendly or sustainable practices in order to gain customers. Certainly there are sustainable and ethical companies and brands out there who do not conform to certifications, but it’s important to be able to be able to distinguish between those companies and companies simply green washing.
I usually like to use a food analogy to explain how important certifications are. In the U.S., there are no laws prohibiting companies from tooting their own horn in terms of promoting “healthy” food or “sustainable” practices. However, there are certain logos and brands (Ex: USDA Organic) that cannot legally be used on products unless they meet the standards for that certification. This is important because these third-party, independent organizations guarantee that the product meets the criteria of the certification in order to bare it’s logo.
There are many different types of certifications. They cover everything from the food you eat, the fibers that make up the shirt you’re wearing, to the working conditions of the people making these goods and products.
Certifications you might find on ethical or sustainable products