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5 Green Labels Explained

5 Green Labels Explained

Do you ever wonder what all the green certification labels mean? With nearly 100 green certifications nationwide, it can be difficult to understand what each means. Here’s a helpful guide that explains some of the most common seals and labels:

Fair Trade Certified 

The Fair Trade Certified seal means that one or more of the ingredients in the product were produced and traded in accordance with the Fair Trade USA’s standards. Fair Trade USA says it aims to ensure that farmers and workers are paid fair prices and wages, work in safe working conditions, protect the environment, and earn community development funds to improve their lives. The seal can be most commonly found on beans and grains, coffee, chocolate, fish and seafood, fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, nuts, sugar, tea, wine and spirits.

USDA Organic

Some of the standards that must be meet in order to receive the USDA Organic seal include: the absence of pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics and growth hormones. As for production and handling, genetic engineering, ionizing radiation or synthetic substances are prohibited. There are a few classifications for organic products:

100% organic: Contains only organically produced ingredients and processing aids.

Organic: Contains at least 95% organically produced ingredients. Remaining products must not be commercially available in organic form.

Made with organic ingredients: May be processed with at least 70% organic ingredients

In order to become certified, applicants must submit information to one of the USDA’s accredited certifying agents. An inspection and compliance review will proceed before certification can be complete.

Energy Star

The Energy Star program is run by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and is one of the most recognizable eco-labels. The program rates products such as appliances, electronics and lighting fixtures on their energy efficiency. Energy Star also has a certification that is given to new homes that have superior heating and cooling efficiency and feature Energy Star- certified appliances and fixtures.

Rainforest Alliance Certified

By encouraging sustainable land-use, business and consumer behavior, the Rainforest Alliance hopes to conserve the planet. They work with large, multi-national corporations, as well as small businesses to spread their mission: “To conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior.” The tree frog label can be found on coffee, cocoa, chocolate, tea, nuts, fruits, paper, furniture, building materials and more


The EnergyGuide label is required for all appliances and estimates the amount of energy the product will use. It provides information about whether the usage is below the average for that particular type of product, and also estimates the yearly operating cost.

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