Welcome to Eco Links
This page is designed to keep you informed about labels and certifications. There are a myriad of different logos in the labeling world. We picked a select few that we believe are important to explore. We will update this page with labels and certifications as they arise. If you are curious about a specific one, please send us a message. We will research the topic and possibly reach out to an expert in that field for an interview or an article contribution.
In order to stay informed, it’s important to learn how to read labels. Why should we care about these labels? Because we believe it is important to know where our food and products we use come from, what’s in them, how were they made and/or grown, what is the quality of the ingredients and how do the companies that sell and store these products operate. We all want to take care of ourselves in the best way possible and with that said, we have the responsibility of keeping ourselves informed. And of course, share this information with our families, our friends and our communities.
Explore, learn, and buy what YOU really want for you and your family.
It’s all about options and knowledge, make your choices wisely!
What is organic?
Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.
Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.
The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows:
Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.
For more information visit: www.organic.org
What are GMOs?
You’ve probably heard about GMOs, which are also referred to as genetically modified organisms, GE (genetically engineered), herbicide-tolerant (HT) or Bt crops. In simple terms, a GMO is an organism that has been changed injecting it with genetic material from another species. GE seeds were introduced commercially in 1996 and now dominate the production of corn, soybeans, and cotton in the United States. GE crops contain one or both of two major categories of traits:
• Herbicide-tolerant (HT) crops, more commonly known as “Roundup Ready crops,” are genetically engineered to survive direct application of one or more herbicides during the growing season, chemicals that would otherwise kill or severely stunt the crop.
• Bt crops are engineered to produce toxins…that kill certain agricultural insect pests.
Consider this: much of the corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets, and canola in the United States are genetically modified. This means the ingredients made from them, including such common ingredients as corn syrup, soy lecithin, sugar, vegetable oil and cottonseed oil, are genetically modified as well. In fact, according to California’s Department of Food and Agriculture, 70% of processed foods in American supermarkets now contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. At this time, none of these products are required to be labeled as genetically engineered.
For more information on the Non-GMO Project’s testing and verification of risk ingredients and processed foods, please see the Non-GMO Project Standard. Visit: www.nongmoproject.org
If you agree that you have a right to know if the food you are eating has been genetically engineered, send a message to the FDA today. With just one click, you can show your support for the FDA petition requiring the labeling of GE foods and win back your right to know.
Right now, we have the choice to avoid GMOs (genetically modified organisms). We can choose organic products, which, by law, are required to be grown and processed without the use of GMOs.
We also have the right to know what we are eating, and the right to make informed choices about what we eat.
What is Fair Trade?
The Fair Trade Certified™ label ensures consumers that the farmers and workers behind the product got a better deal. It is more than a certification stamp and more than a seal of approval. It reassures consumers that their purchases are socially and environmentally responsible. It is the end result of a rigorous global inspection and monitoring systems.
The Fair Trade Federation (FTF) is the trade association that strengthens and promotes North American organizations fully committed to Fair Trade. The Fair Trade Federation is the trade association that strengthens and promotes North American organizations fully committed to fair trade. The Federation is part of the global fair trade movement, building equitable and sustainable trading partnerships and creating opportunities to alleviate poverty.
The Federation envisions a just and sustainable global economic system in which purchasing and production choices are made with concern for the well-being of people and the environment, creating a world where all people have viable economic options to meet their own needs. They seek to alleviate poverty by continually and significantly expanding the practice of trade that values the labor and dignity of all people. For more information visit: www.fairtradeusa.org and www.fairtradefederation.org
What is Certified Humane?
The Certified Humane Raised and Handled® program is a certification and labeling program that is the only animal welfare label requiring the humane treatment of farm animals from birth through slaughter. The goal of the program is to improve the lives of farm animals by driving consumer demand for kinder and more responsible farm animal practices. When you see the Certified Humane Raised and Handled® label on a product you can be assured that the food products have come from facilities that meet precise, objective standards for farm animal treatment. For more information visit: www.certifiedhumane.org
What are FSC and Rainforest Alliance?
FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.
Established in 1993 as a response to concerns over global deforestation, FSC is a pioneer forum where the global consensus on responsible forest management convenes and through democratic process effects solutions to the pressures facing the world’s forests and forest-dependent communities.
Within this forum, voices from the Global North and South, from organizations big and small, assemble to define environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable forest management and identify the tools and resources that will effect positive, lasting change. For more information visit: www.fsc.org
Many businesses claim their products are sustainable, but how do consumers really know? Increasingly, they are demanding an independent, third-party seal of approval. Distinguish your goods and services through the Rainforest Alliance’s family of marks.
Farms, forestry operations and other businesses that meet the appropriate certification and verification standards earn access to the Rainforest Alliance family of marks for on- and off-product promotions.
Whether you’re looking to green your home, your office, your school or your travels, the Rainforest Alliance can help. By choosing certified and verified products and services, for personal or business use, you are helping to transform our global marketplace into a more sustainable model; one that promotes better lands, lives and livelihoods. The green frog seal of approval is recognized around the world as the symbol of sustainability. For more information visit www.rainforest-alliance.org
Please remember to recycle and to buy recycled products when possible. Look for the “recycle” sign below. For recycling programs in your community visit: www.recycle.org
What does a Green Seal mean?
Green Seal developed life cycle-based sustainability standards for products, services and companies and offer third-party certification for those that meet the criteria in the standard. Green Seal has been actively identifying and promoting sustainability in the marketplace, and helping organizations be greener in a real and effective way since 1989.
Green Seal in a non-profit organization that uses science-based programs to empower consumers, purchasers and companies to create a more sustainable world.
Green Seal envisions a green economy. One that is as sustainable as possible – renewable, with minimal impact so our environment, all forms of life and our natural resources are protected and our social need and values are honored.
Green Seal is a pioneer in promoting a sustainable economy. In 1989 there were no other environmental certification programs in the US and the founders had the foresight to recognize the need for a tool to help shoppers find truly green products. They developed the Green Seal as a non-profit to stand for absolute integrity. Over the years the reputation of the Seal brand has grown to symbolize environmental leadership, and it continues to represent unquestionably green products and services. For more information visit www.greenseal.org
What’s the impact of climate change?
Climate change is real, we are all responsible for it and we all must be part of the solution!
Since the Industrial Revolution started in the middle of the 19th century, carbon dioxide emissions in our atmosphere have increased steadily and dramatically from the burning of fossil fuels, namely coal, oil and gas, and to a lesser degree from methane and industrial gases.
This increase in CO2 from roughly 280 parts per million (ppm) prior to the Industrial Revolution to about 392 ppm today is having a dramatic impact on our climate, both warming our climate and altering our weather with more droughts and more very extreme weather events. Our sea levels are rising and entire countries are at risk of disappearing. If the Greenland glaciers fail, global sea levels could rise by 20 feet, swamping low level areas around the world, including Florida and Manhattan, causing global catastrophe.
The cause of climate change is manmade.
And we must solve the problem by reducing our emissions by 50-85% globally by mid-century. Breaking down the problem, this does not need to be an insurmountable task. Reducing our emissions just 2% per year would do it. Carbonfund.org helps individuals and businesses understand climate change and develop practical and cost-effective solutions to slow, stop and reduce our climate crisis. Reduce What You Can, Offset What You Can’t.™ That’s their motto. Everyone has a responsibility to reduce their individual carbon footprint, and there are lots of ways to do so. We encourage everyone to think about their lifestyle decisions and find opportunities to reduce their climate impact.
You can get partway to carbon neutrality through how you live your life, i.e., reducing your carbon footprint, and get the rest of the way there by supporting Carbonfund.org’s carbon offset projects. For more information visit: www.carbonfund.org
What does cruelty free mean?
Did you know that many products on our supermarket shelves, from lipsticks to floor cleaners, have either been tested on animals or contain ingredients that have?
While some products carry labels claiming that their brand is ‘not tested on animals’ or is ‘against animal testing’, these are often confusing and do not guarantee that the product is actually free from animal testing. Only the Leaping Bunny can provide peace of mind.
Products bearing the Leaping Bunny mark are certified ‘cruelty free’ under the internationally-recognized Humane Cosmetics or Humane Household Products Standards.
These rigorous standards stipulate that no animal testing is conducted or commissioned for finished products or ingredients in any phase of product development by the company, its laboratories or its suppliers after a fixed cut-off date.
A broad range of personal care, cosmetic and household products carry the Leaping Bunny mark. Using our search you can find ‘cruelty-free’ products such as skin, hair, foot and dental care, fragrances, make-up, nail care, baby care and aromatherapy products, as well as a wide range of household cleaners from dishwasher detergents to disinfectants. For more information visit www.gocrueltyfree.org
What is Food Alliance certified?
In a nutshell Food Alliance certification entails safe and fair working conditions, humane animal treatment and careful stewardship of ecosystems. Food Alliance provides comprehensive third-party certification for social and environmental responsibility in agriculture and the food industry.
Today, there are more than 320 Food Alliance Certified operations, and over six million acres managed by Food Alliance Certified producers throughout North America. Food Alliance Certified products include meats, shellfish, eggs, dairy, mushrooms, grains, legumes, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and prepared products made with these certified ingredients.
With clear standards and criteria, Food Alliance certification is a practical, credible, and effective way for farmers, ranchers, and food companies to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability in agricultural practices and facilities management. Visit www.foodalliance.org