What’s in a name?

When it comes to ecolabeling, a lot.  Or not so much.  It depends.  Ecolabels have become a fundamental part of the green consumer movement, mushrooming in numbers over the past 20 years and encompassing everything from seafood to appliances to houses.  But does that seal of approval on your latest purchase really matter?  Does certification of a product to some “green” standard really help the environment?

Three big players in the sustainability movement – The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation and Mars, Incorporated – set out two years ago to find out.  They just released their findings this week in their report Toward Sustainability:  The Roles and Limitations of Certification.   I was one of the consultants commissioned to research and write part of the report, drawing on my previous work on sustainable seafood as well as the scientific literature.   Not surprisingly, in a complex world with lots of variables, the links between certification and actual environmental benefits are unclear.  Read the results for yourself at the Resolve website. 

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