Deciphering Labels: What’s Really Green and What Is Not

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detergentlabels-300×225.jpgNow that mainstream America has become at least somewhat environmentally-conscious, marketers are vying for our attention with seemingly green labels on a broad spectrum of products. However, are those labels honest and accurate?

Well, there’s good news and bad news…The bad news is that it has been 10 years since the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has revised its green marketing guidelines, known as its “green guides”. A lot has changed in 10 years in the eco-conscious arena and the terms used today to describe a product’s greenness may be too vague to allow consumers to choose truly environmentally-friendly products. The good news is that the green guides are due to be revised in early 2009.

Besides being deceptively vague, “manufacturers are not even required by law to list all of their ingredients on labels – even if they’re toxic. Nor are they required to provide ingredient lists to curious customers”.  Some good news…products that contain hazardous materials are required by law to post Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), which you can usually find on manufacturers’ websites or the SDI MSDS database.

It’s a good idea to read warning labels on the products themselves. Try to avoid products that read: “Danger”, “Warning”, “Caution”, “Poison”, “May cause skin irritation”, “Flammable”, “Corrosive”, “Vapors harmful”, or “May cause burns on contact.” There may be other, safer alternatives available.

Deceptive product labels include: “Natural”, “Biodegradable”, or “Contains recycled content”. Instead look for more specific labels that read, “Plant-based”, “Contains No Solvents”, “No Phosphates”, “Biodegrades in 3-5 days”, “Contains Post-consumer recycled content”.

Also, check labels for verification by an independent third-party like: “Energy Star, “Cradle-to-Cradle”, “GreenGuard”, “Designed for the Environment”, “Forest Stewardship Council”, “Green Seal”, “GreenScapes”, “Quality Assurance International Certified Organic”, “USDA Certified Organic”, and “WaterSense”.

Source: The Green Routine

Tag(s): Going Green, Hazardous Products / Health Issues


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