Eco-Labeling. Great idea or waste of paper?

I don’t often see eco-labeling on clothing but I do see various kinds of labeling on cosmetics and hair care items. For example many of the items I buy have a little rabbit on them which means that they haven’t been tested on animals. Sometimes it will say “Not tested on animals” (or something similar) and sometimes it will just have the rabbit label with no text. However, if it never had the text, I would still know what it meant because I am familiar with the label and often seek it out. But what about labels that I am unfamiliar with?

Like I said before, I rarely see eco-labels on clothing, but when I do I don’t know what they mean so they don’t effect my purchasing decision. Its not surprising that I rarely see them because according to the reading these labels, “cover a limited number of consumer goods” and are traded in “niche markets”. Perhaps one of the reasons for the low number is that it is hard for apparel to earn the labels due to the nature of the apparel production process. Because most companies do not handle production from beginning to end on their own, its hard to say whether or not everything was sustainable. Despite the difficulty, I think that it is important for companies to mention if something about their product is sustainable because people have a right to be informed about what they are purchasing. Likewise, like with me and the cosmetics, the labeling can influence consumer behavior. However, that only works if the consumer knows what the label means. So having consistent labeling across industries, with a minimal amount of text (so it doesn’t overwhelm but still informs), are some good ways of getting the point across. Making p.s.a. commercials about the labels may be another tool to give consumers information about the different labels, so they can make informed purchasing decisions. It is very important that the labels are communicating effectively with the consumer because if they aren’t changing behavior, than they really are just a waste of paper.

On a unrelated note, I used a re-useable shopping bag for the first time last week! It was a huge tote-bag, so I was able to fit all of my groceries in it. So, its not only beneficial for the environment, but its beneficial to me because I won’t have to take as many trips to and from the car. I’m not sure if I’ll remember the bag every time, but I think that its definitely a change I can stick with. I always save my plastic bags to re-use for lunchbags etc. but I have to many now; and seeing them all crammed in the drawer I put them in is a wakeup call for how much of a waste they are even if I may eventually re-use them.

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