Standards for Eco-Stuff

Eco-Style, Great Green Products 1

buygreenblouseAs I review more and more ‘green’ products these days, I’m kind of baffled that there isn’t more of a standardized rating system. I googled ‘green product standards’ and I found the Green Seal of course, which is great for paper products and cleaners.  The EPA even has a database for information on environmental products and services – if you go there and you can figure out what the standards are and actually find product lists, please let me know! It’s a little confusing.

What about standards for all the great stuff we find on sites like AlternativeConsumer.com, FeelGoodStyle.com and of course TheGreenDivas.com? What about clothing manufacturing, which by the way is traditionally a pretty harsh industry on the environment? What about other textile products, great sustainably-designed kitchen gadgets, and what about all those awesome accessories - eco-bags/purses, belts, jewelry, shoes!?!

I found one promising standard system . . .
BuyGreen.com
seems to have a rating system that works. It is a flexible system and offers an opportunity to become more educated about certain types of products and their inherent characteristics in terms of their basic product life cycle. It also seems to work well across a diverse range of products from clothing, to toys and yes, accessories! They even offer office products.

The four main categories are designed to rate a product from ‘cradle to grave’ and represent a product’s basic lifecycle. The categories used are: source material, manufacturing, use, and disposal. Every product offered on their website uses a rating box, which has all four of these categories represented by an icon. If the product meets or exceeds that categories requirements, it will be displayed in color. If not, it is there, but in grey.

There is also a number rating for overall green attributes 1 – not so many: 100 – lots of good green attributes.

You can see an example of this in the image in this post. Note that this hemp blouse has a fairly good rating. The ‘use’ icon is not highlighted. Not really sure what that is about exactly. But, if you want to learn more, you can go to their informative standards page and understand what their rationale is.

I’ve seen some very rudimentary attempts to rate products, but this one is by far the most detailed and perhaps most useful one I’ve come across. Go BuyGreen.com!

eat. blog. be merry!
GD Meg

About the author / 

Green Diva Meg
megan@thegreendivas.com'

(aka Megan McWilliams) is a green living expert and media personality as the producer and host of the Green Divas Radio Show. She has been sharing low-stress ways of living a deeper shade of green for over 20 years. She is also produces podcasts and videos for the Green Divas and other clients through the Green Diva Studio.

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1 Comment

  1. jon@andertec.ca'
    Jon April 13, 2009 at 9:23 pm -  Reply

    Great post! I totally agree with you that a good standardized way to compare the “greenness” of products is definitely something we should strive for.

    I also like the rating system used on buygreen.com. The only problem I have with the system (IIRC) is that they have trademarked the use. I think whatever system gets implemented needs to be a system that can be freely used across all sites, shops, retailers, whatever.

    A green system should be implemented for the good of the planet, not a retailers competitive advantage – in my opinion at least.

    Also, there’s a lot of talk about purchasing/consuming products that are “green.” But what about good old fashioned reusing? I am currently part of the website rentcharlie.com, which is all about connecting renters with stuff to rent.

    At the end of the day, I’m pretty sure you’re better off (financially) and the world is better off (environmentally) if people rented more and consumed less.

    I can’t remember where I read the study, but it showed how it’s more environmentally beneficial to purchase a used car that gets good MPG than a new hybrid. A lot of people forget the environmental impact of production of green products (again, one of the reasons I like the buygreen.com rating system).

    Anyways, to sum up. The buygreen.com rating system would be great if it was free for everyone to use, but at the end of the day, renting is going to be a much greener option than consuming.

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