Yes, there definitely should be a universal eco label. I am constantly questioning how companies label theirs products as green or organic. There is a common technique called greenwashing where companies label their products as green when in reality they really aren’t. The FDA should have their own standards for being green and any other standard should not be allowed. This will make sure consumers always get accurate information.
It would be nice if there was a global label, but there is a lot of debate over how high standards should be for such a label, so actually getting the label may be very hard to do.
The Wall Street Journal considers this question in the following article:
The proliferation of “green” labeling has prompted a surge of over 300 third parties offering eco-labels as validation. The federal government is exploring the feasibility of heading an “Eco-Label” to handle questions like – What does it really mean to be green? Is having some recycled content enough, and if so, how much? Is something biodegradable still green if it travels a thousand miles to reach shelves? And if a green product doesn’t perform as well as its nongreen peers, is it really preferable?
This debate reminds me of nutrition labeling. Nutritional labeling on packaging like “good source of antioxidants” etc. can be misleading, because people don’t read the fine print. I’m thinking that even with a universal eco label, if companies aren’t required to regulate the size of the details, they could do a similar thing where the catchy words are all big and the details and tricky things are all in the fine print. This wouldn’t be any more helpful than what we have now, and would simply make companies want to jump through those hoops to gain the trust of the public.
Here is a quote from In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, “The FDA’s own research indicates that consumers have no idea what to make of qualified health claims (how would they?), and its rules allow companies to promote the claims pretty much any way they want – they can use really big type for the claim, for example, and then print the disclaimers in teeny-tiny type.”
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