As the great conscious consumer you are, I know without a doubt, that you’re analyzing every purchase you make. Third Party Certifications are one of the most important things to look for when you spend your money. But it’s always good to refresh your knowledge on the subject!
In short, these certifications ensure that the company has strong ethics and sustainable practices.
The varying landscape of certifications
An example of first party certification is someone claiming that they are eco-friendly based on their own criteria. But it requires absolutely no verification or testing. It’s kind of like Herbal Essences Bio:Renew when they make substantial claims but have absolutely no information supporting it. I like to call this greenwashing.
A second party certification is when a company creates their own certification standards that they need to meet, but only they can achieve. Proctor and Gamble (P&G) has a second party certification called “Future Friendly.” Only P&G products can have this logo. This can be exceptionally misleading to the average consumer.
It wasn’t my plan to drag Proctor and Gamble through the mud with this post, but here we are.
What is a Third Party Certification and why does it matter?
By now, you’ve probably caught on that a third party certification is the best a company can display. So here’s how it works:
A company needs to submit and pay for the application to the third party organization. The brand and/or product are placed through a series of tests to see if it qualifies based on the criteria it needs to meet. If a company meets those standards, it can proudly display the certification logo.
Third party certification means more than a simple claim, because of the rigorous testing and cost that comes with achieving the certification. You cannot stamp any certification on a product if it does not meet those standards. It is entirely impartial and solely based on whether a company meets the criteria.
Now that I’ve reminded you why third party certifications are important to look for, you might need a bit of refreshing on some of the well-known options. It’s okay, there’s a lot to remember! In fact, there’s over 400 certifications available.
Third Party Certifications You Should Know
Certified B Corp
B Corp Certification encompasses the manufacturing process from sustainability to ethical working conditions and fair pay. A certified B Corporation has to meet rigorous standards straight from the supply chain to the end of a product’s lifecycle.
Some B Corp Companies include: Patagonia, Method Recycling and Lunapads.
The Carbon Neutral certification is achieved through reducing a company’s carbon footprint to zero. This is achieved through in-house efficiency and external emission reduction initiatives (their words!)
It is important to note that there are quite a few third party certifications based on carbon output. I recommend checking out this exhaustive list on the varying certifications available.
Carbon Neutral Brands include: Sky Media, Elopak, and Green Biz Group.
Cradle to Cradle
Cradle to Cradle certification is based on whether products will sustain a circular economy. They are assessed on five categories: material health, material reuse, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness. Based on the criteria they meet, they receive an award which ranges from basic to platinum certification.
Cradle to Cradle Certified Brands include: Method Products, Pacific Jeans Ltd., and Tarkett.
Ecocert is a certification body for sustainable initiatives. They offer various certifications including: USDA Organic, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Fair Trade and many more. You can see the full list of certifications they offer here.
ECOLOGO certification is provided for everything ranging from building supplies to personal care products. These products are certified for their life-cycle based environmental factors and rigorous environmental testing.
ECOLOGO certified brands include: Lalema, Armstrong Manufacturing Inc., and Cascades.
If you’ve ever purchased a new appliance, you’ve likely seen the blue energy star logo. This certification is a mark of energy efficiency which is especially important if you live in a region where coal is still being burned to produce electricity.
Energy Star Certified Brands include: Samsung, LG and Miele
Those are just a few of the most prominent certifications you should be on the lookout for. As you become a conscious consumer, you have the ability to know the difference between greenwashing and true claims.