As a capitalist society that votes with dollars, the party of conscious consumerism is growing, as are the third-party certifications that verify the ethics, sustainability, and purity of products. “Natural,” “vegan,” and “zero-waste” are casually slapped onto labels without much validity or oversight. Still, hundreds of legitimate organizations are dedicated to validating transparency in supply chains and the goods they produce. Here are a few verification logos to look out for on your next shopping excursion, and what they mean.
Organic and Natural
While “natural” is a loosely used description, “organic” refers to farming that doesn’t use fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals, or additives to grow and harvest crops. One of the most recognizable labels, USDA, certifies a product is organic if it’s been “grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years before harvest.”
Most home goods contain some amount of poisonous elements like talc, the main ingredient used to make eyeshadows and baby powder, which is contaminated with harmful asbestos fibers. Made Safe certifies that everything from pillows to tampons is made without ingredients that are harmful to humans.
Vegan and Cruelty-free
Fourteen percent of Americans follow an animal-free diet, and that practice can go beyond food consumption, with more beauty brands manufacturing vegan products. Leaping Bunny and Beauty Without Bunnies verify personal care products are not tested on animals nor use animal-derived ingredients.
Ethical and Humane
Low pay, child labor, and inhumane working conditions have been a cause for concern since the rise of outsourced production overseas. Certifications like Fairtrade prioritize working conditions and equitable deals for farmers, while B Corp focuses on a company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices.