Walking down the aisle of the supermarket, I see little icons on the front of boxes and packaging. They are often green, indicating some sort of environmental friendliness. Over the past few years, I have seen new ones appear with regularity. We've done the research on these certifications and can help you navigate the broad spectrum of labels and certifications.
Why are they needed?
How do I know that someone is telling the truth? I can rely upon my knowledge of them, but that only extends as far as the depth of our relationship. What if I don't know someone very well? This is where references come in. Just like interviewing for a job or an important role, it is important to have other people, people outside of family, that can vouch for your character, work ethic, and skills. Certifications act like an outside reference. Companies use 3rd party certifications (opinions outside the family) to clearly demonstrate that what they are saying is true.
Companies that are proud of how they treat the people in their supply chain want their customers to know about their efforts. They want consumers to be able to trust what they say about their ethics, so they have their products certified by independent organizations and auditors. Words are cheap. Certifications, on the other hand, allow consumers to have more confidence in how the goods they are purchasing have been produced.
In our quest to love our neighbors as ourselves, these certifications are crucial. We have placed them into 3 categories on our website: Workers & Companies, Community & Environment, and Health & Food.
Workers & Companies
In the workers & companies category, these certifications ensure that workers are treated fairly, paid living wages, work in safe conditions, companies have a purpose beyond just profit, and other guarantees. You can find out more information about certifications that protect workers on our Workers Labels page.
Key certifications within this category include: Fair Trade, Fair Wear, GoodWeave, and others.
Community & Environment
In the Community & Environment category, these certifications ensure that no harm comes to the communities where the goods we purchase are made, sourced, or consumed. A sad example of companies not caring about the environment, and through the manufacturing process releasing a harmful chemical that has hurt people in the communities where the factories were, is in our home state of Michigan. Michigan has been found to have the highest number of PFAS sites in the entire country. You can find out more information about certifications that protect communities in the World Labels page.
Key certifications in this category include: Forest Stewardship Council, 1% for the planet, Bluesign, Environmental Working Group, Rainforest Alliance, and many more.
Health & Food
In the Health & Food category, these certifications ensure that people are not harmed through eating food, farming, using cleansers, applying lotions, or other everyday activities. Did you know that the European Union has banned more than 1300 chemicals from cosmetics whereas the US FDA has only banned 11? Knowing what products you can trust to not harm your family and your neighbor's family is more critical than ever! You can find more information about certifications that protect farmers, us, and everyone in between on the Wellness Labels page.
Key certifications in this category include: USDA Organic, PCO Grass-fed Certification, GreenGuard, Non-GMO Project, Environmental Working Group, Think Dirty, and others.
No certification is flawless, but they are necessary
These certifications are absolutely necessary, not because they are perfect, but because we know that public companies are by law required to maximize shareholder profit. This almost always involves abuses of labor and/or communities because laws do not fully protect our neighbors. As Christians who love others as much as we love our own families, we must ensure that God's money does no harm (Romans 13:10). We must do our best to love others more than money. These certifications are an integral piece of that puzzle.
Note: No companies, organizations, or entities sponsored, endorsed, or contributed to this post. The thoughts contained in this post are the authors alone and are merely for educational purposes. The contact information and website links for each of the entities mentioned can be found on the Certifications pages.