What should be labeled?
Finally, should your business select a company-wide or product-specific label? There are pros and cons to each of these types of certifications. Green America, B-Corporation, Fair Trade Certified, Green Seal and ULE all provide company-wide certification. Green Seal and ULE also provide product-specific labels.
When the entire company is certified, in most cases the issuing organization looks beyond product attributes such as material, energy use, etc. Green America, for example, reviews the labor practices, fair trade practices, community involvement, transparency and communication, employee treatment, and charitable giving practices of the company. So when a consumer shops from a Green America Gold Certified company, he or she knows that the entire corporate culture is dedicated to sustainability and social responsibility.
On the other hand, when labeling occurs at the product level, as with the Energy Star program, one only knows that the exact product that being purchased meets very specific environmental criteria. But since the entire company has not been reviewed, it is possible that the manufacturer may have sweatshops in China or be a big contributor to the coal lobby, for example.
Where does all this leave us? Is certification worth the hassle? My answer is a big resounding yes! Obtaining an eco label “seal of approval” shows customers that your business is serious about sustainability, while also providing you and your employees with a good sustainability education along the way.