Clarifying Certification Confusion

How do you navigate through the masses of certifications and eco-labels out there? Staying true to GoodGuide‘s purpose of providing an easy resource to quickly find the safest, healthiest and greenest products, we held a Certification Chat to try to clear up some of the confusion. We were lucky enough to have representatives join us from some of the most prominent certifications to directly answer consumer questions. If you weren’t able to attend, here are some key takeaways from the event:

Fair Trade USA:

  • The leading certifier of Fair Trade products in the US, guarantees ethical working conditions and sustainable business.
  • All Fair Trade Certified products are free of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
  • Coffee continues to be the leading Fair Trade product. Produce, sugar and tea are growing rapidly.
  • By providing farmers with economic stability, environmental stewardship is also encouraged.


  • Supports informed choice and a non-GMO future with North America’s only non-GMO verification program, based on DNA testing.
  • Ongoing ingredient testing, annual evaluations & onsite inspections are required for companies to be Non-GMO Project verified.
  • There are currently 3,000+ verified products!
  • Here’s the complete list of GMO risk crops and common ingredients from them.
  • The FDA does not regulate non-GMO claims, so look specifically for the Non-GMO Project label.

Leaping Bunny:

  • Administers a cruelty-free standard for cosmetic, personal care and household product companies.
  • Certified companies make a long-term pledge to no new animal testing. They are required to recommit each year.
  • The label is found in the US and Canada, and the EU partner is Go Cruelty Free.
  • The FDA does not regulate the use of terms such as “cruelty-free” or “no animal testing”.


  • Helps protect human health by reducing exposure to chemicals & pollutants. Certifies products for low chemical emissions.
  • Quarterly monitoring and annual re-testing is required to ensure compliance with the standards.
  • Consider a product’s impact on the air you breathe indoors. This is a major route of chemical exposure.

Eco Logo:

  • Certifies products and services that have met stringent standards of environmental leadership.
  • Continuously growing, and now has the support of one of the world’s most trusted certification organizations (UL). They still adhere to the same principles of science and stringency.

Green Palm:

  • A supply chain option for the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil certification addressing social, environmental & economic issues for the palm oil industry.
  • Recently helped Brazil undergo change with its deforestation issues.
  • 50% of packed products in EU contain palm oil / palm kernel or derivatives.

Climate Counts:

  • Scores companies on their climate impact, bringing consumers and companies together in finding solutions to climate change.
  • The ratings are valid for a one year time frame. Scoring is conducted annually.
  • 63.9% of companies improved their climate leadership scores from 2010 to 2011!
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4 Responses to Clarifying Certification Confusion

  1. Chris says:

    How about lists for BPA free canned goods?

  2. Thanks for sharing this great information which helps make it easier for consumers to understand some of the most common and trustworthy certifications for making better choices.

    For those working in sustainable business, SustainAbility has recently produced a great report showing where the future of certifications is heading. You can check it out here:

  3. Although I support GoodGuide’s goals, I believe much more research should be done before jumping into bed with any certifying organization – for example, Fair Trade USA. Equal Exchange, one of Fair Trade USA’s founders, has recently launched the “Stand with Small Farmers” campaign for authentic Fair Trade in response to many actions recently imposed by Fair Trade USA, including initiatiaves which (they say) lower standards to make it easier for large corporations to label their products as fair trade. See our current blog post And GreenGuard is terrific for what it does, but please be clear about it’s limitations – not all chemicals volatilize, nor should GreenGuard be considered a green light for safe chemicals in any product. For example, GreenGuard doesn’t measure any of the heavy metals, which do not evaporate, but are found in high quantities in textile dyestuffs – and lead is just as toxic to developing children as any of the VOC’s.

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