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Defining Green: Innovation, Labeling and Self-examination

By: Frederic Holzberger
Posted: February 24, 2010, from the March 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Some of the most quality resources out there can be found online, such as the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site focusing on green products and greenwashing, www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/general/gen02.shtm, and EcoLabelling.org. On these sites you have the ability to not only find the meaning of the label, but with a few other clicks, you can research when the label was established, what products it is used on, its global use, and the number of products utilizing the label, as well as the standard details, length of certification, how it is audited and reviewed, verification, and the managing organization and its contact information.

Also, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program, established in 1992, develops, implements and administers national production, handling and labeling standards for organic agricultural products. It has certified 35,000 products and companies, and USDA Organic certification holders are also audited each year by an independent third party.

The right choice

No matter how you look at it, every business owner has tough choices to make. Whether it is the building materials you choose, the product line that you carry or the everyday items you need to run your business, you have to be vigilant to know what impact they are going to have not only today, but in the future as well.

More and more, product manufacturers are looking closer at the ingredients they use, utilizing renewable energy options to create their products, and employing responsible packaging in which to deliver them. And other spa companies are offering programs such as those that recycle polypropylene caps, collecting them and sending them to a recycler where the material is made into new caps and containers. Still other manufacturers have programs where customers return packaging to them in exchange for free product. Check with your product partners to find out about their environmental virtues, and help encourage them to continue these efforts by taking part yourself.

Everyone has the duty to ask these questions before starting a project or buying anything:

  • Do I need it?
  • Can I live without it?
  • Can I borrow, rent or get it used?
  • Is the project designed to minimize waste?
  • Can it be smaller, lighter or made from fewer materials?
  • Is it designed to be durable or multifunctional?
  • Does it use renewable resources?
  • Are the product and packaging refillable, recyclable or repairable?
  • Is it made with postconsumer recycled or reclaimed materials, and if so, how much?
  • It is available in a less toxic form?
  • Is it available from a socially and environmentally responsible company?
  • Is it made or available locally?