Many companies now list certifications on their website and in product descriptions. When looking for safe products made without harmful chemicals for our families and our homes, it can be confusing. From knowing which ingredients are safe to avoiding greenwashing, it’s not easy to know which products are safe. This post to Product Certifications – Explained should help you understand what these common certification mean and guide you in finding the safest products that align with your values.
Please note, while there are numerous certifications we could cover, for the sake of brevity, this post will focus on the most common certifications found in everyday items, such as food, home and personal care products.
So let’s begin.
What is a Product Certification?
Simply stated, a product certification is when a company chooses to have a third party verify their products. If the company and/or the product meet the requirements, they are then awarded the certificate. Some certifications require full transparency, while others require rigorous testing, laborious practices and the highest level of standards for operations in the industry. Below, you will find information on some of the most common certifications in the personal care, food and textile industries.
PERSONAL CARE PRODUCT CERTIFICATIONS
Certified Asthma & Allergy Friendly
Terms such as ‘hypoallergenic’ or ‘allergy-friendly’ have no regulations. This lack of regulations means any company can label any product with these claims, with little to no proof that they are effective. And they do. Annually, roughly $10 Billion is spent on products marketed to people with asthma and allergies. And this is just in America.
The asthma & allergy friendly®Certification Program is a unique partnership between the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and Allergy Standards Limited (ASL). The Program tests and certifies products and services to improve the air quality and health of homes. Improving the lives of all who suffer from asthma and allergies.
This certification is for products that have not been tested on animals and do not have products or by-products of animals in their ingredients. This is especially important for individuals that follow a vegan diet, for veganism is more than what one eats, it is a way of life.
Environmental Working Group Verified
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is by far one of my favorite resources. EWG is a non-profit entity that has created a database called Skin Deep Database that lists a myriad of products and ingredients. They test the ingredients in these products, along with the chemical reactions that occur when two different ingredients mix. Then assign a number of 0-10 on both the products and the ingredients, with 0 being the safest. In addition to the number scale, there are colors assigned to categorize the different levels of safety. Green is for 0-2, Orange is 3-6, and Red is 7-10. If a product is assigned a 0, it becomes EWG Verified.
The EWG Verification means that the company has provided full transparency and disclosure of ingredients in their products, and the testing results are above and beyond it’s green ratings.
Leaping Bunny Certification
The Leaping Bunny Certification is a cruelty-free label. It represents products and activities that do not harm or kill animals, as well as those that are not tested on or are made from animals. Founded in 1996, the Leaping Bunny Program is operated by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics in the US and Canada.
For a company or product to be certified, it must agree to no animal testing at any stage of product development. The company must also renew annually with third-party confirmation.
PETA Cruelty-Free, also known as Beauty Without Bunnies, has a database of over 6,000 companies with beauty and personal care products that do not test on animals. This is also a great resource to vet your personal products through.
CERTIFICATIONS FOR WHAT WE EAT
Green Restuarant Association
The Green Restuarant Association, or the GRA, measures the impact a restaurant has on the environment. Categories measured include: water efficiency; waste reduction and recycling; sustainable durable goods and building materials; sustainable food; energy; reusable and disposables; chemical and pollution reduction; and transparency and education.
These categories are monitored and measured. Results then create a journey for next step practices to continue growth and improvement for environmental sustainability.
Do you have a Green Certified Restuarant near you? Search here to find out.
The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization. They track the use of GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) and educate the public on the importance of protecting our non-GMO food supply. They verify which foods and products are non-GMO.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a strict national standard for foods grown in the US, and imported, for it to obtain this label. If meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products are labeled with USDA Organic, this means they come from animals free of antibiotics or growth hormones. In addition, crops with the USDA Organic label are grown without the use of harmful chemicals.
CERTIFICATIONS FOR WHAT WE WEAR
GOTS, or Global Organic Textile Standards Certification means that organic fibers are processed from start to finish without using any harmful chemicals such as Formaldehyde or heavy metals. A company with this certification is also monitored to assure best practices to avoid child labor or genetic engineering of any materials.
The Oeko-Tex Certification is for products made that are harmless to human health. This certification is mainly for the textile and leather industries. It also focuses on and promotes responsible practices to protect our planet for future generations.
OTHER PRODUCT CERTIFICATIONS
1% For the Planet
The 1% For the Planet certification is earned by companies that donate 1% of sales to environmentally focused charities. It is made up of a global network of businesses that work together to put people and planet before profit.
Certified B Corp
Cetified B Corps, also known as B Corporations, are a community of businesses that consider the impact of their decision-making on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. Once approved as a B Corp, they must maintain high social and environmental performance. In addition, they are to provide full transparency to all operations as public record and enter into a legal obligation to not only their shareholders, but also their stakeholders.
B Corp Certifications are a great way for companies to quickly build trust and credibility.
The Energy Star Label helps consumers reduce energy required to use the product. This is most often found on major appliances, small appliances and other small household items that use electricity to operate, including lightbulbs.
Fairtrade is an ethical label that puts people and planet before profit. It assures fair trading standards between farmers and buyers, with an emphasis on worker’s rights.
USDA Certified Biobased
Products certified with the USDA Biobase have at least 25% of their contents derived from plant and other renewable based materials.
Knowing Your Certifications
We hope you were able to learn something new today. Pick one or two that matter to you and look at the products you currently use. Are they certified? If not, are you willing to trade up for something safer that is more in line with your values and matters most to you and your family?
Did we leave anything out? If there is a certification you feel is important that we missed, please email us at email@example.com. We love to learn with you and might just update this article with your suggestion.
1% for the Planet – Homepage (onepercentfortheplanet.org), BioPreferred, A-Z of Eco Labelling: 202 Green Certifications Explained – The Roundup, ENERGY STAR | The simple choice for energy efficiency, EWG VERIFIED™ : For Your Health,