Salmon Safe Soapbox
Photo by Barry Kovish

Greening the Marketplace, One Certified Purchase at a Time

Thursday, May 18, 2000

E*Magazine, May/June 2000 

Consumers in Montana, Idaho, Utah, Alaska and the Pacific Northwestcan shun conventional food brands in favor of wine, dairy, fruit and vegetables stickered with the Pacific Rivers Council's Salmon-Safe label. The council only certifies growers that follow stringent conservation guidelines designed to preserve salmon habitat...

Read the article at Emagazine.

Greening the Marketplace, One Certified Purchase at a Time

The ubiquitous product label, long a trusted source of information about consumer concerns like safety and nutrition, has finally established itself as an effective tool for social and environmental change. Thanks to a relatively recent surge in so-called "eco-labeling" programs, which tag (with independently certified seals of approval) everything from nontoxic paints and locally grown food to responsibly harvested timber, consumers can voice their consciences every time they shop.

The labeling of environmentally friendly or socially responsible products is rooted in the belief that a majority of consumers, given a choice, will buy them. A 1996 nationwide analysis of buyer attitudes about farming and food appears to support that theory. "The Hartman Report: Food and the Environment, A Consumer's Perspective," discovered that 52 percent of the population cares about the environment and the impacts that agricultural practices have on it. In a dollar-driven marketplace, that's a figure that producers--many of whom traditionally list the environment among the least of their concerns--can't afford to overlook.

According to Katherine Gilje, a senior associate in the Food and Agriculture Program at the Minnesota-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, the reason eco-labels have been so successful is because they bridge a communication gap between producers and consumers. Gilje explains, "For producers, they're a way to express a personal ethic, the environmental-stewardship components of their operation, or the social benefits of their manufacturing practices. For consumers, it's a way to use the everyday act of shopping to express their values."

Playing it Safe

Consumers in Montana, Idaho, Utah, Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, for example, can shun conventional food brands in favor of wine, dairy, fruit and vegetables stickered with the Pacific Rivers Council's Salmon-Safe label. The council only certifies growers that follow stringent conservation guidelines designed to preserve salmon habitat. To date, more than 40 growers have earned Salmon-Safe designation by planting cover crops that minimize streamside erosion and employing ecologically acceptable methods of weed and pest control that don't harm threatened salmon.

On the other side of the continent, in New England, a partnership between New York-based Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet and regional apple growers has resulted in the CORE Values Northeast (CVN) labeling program. Betsy Lydon, the program's director, says CVN was born from a desire to help local growers gain greater marketability among ordinary shoppers. "Our motto," says Lydon, "is 'Bring Good Farming Home.' Bring it home, feed it to your children, feed it to your family. And tell your friends and neighbors about it, too." To qualify their apples for the label, farmers must minimize their use of pesticides through Integrated Pest Management (IPM), and strive to maintain healthy, ecologically balanced growing environments. In turn, the labeled apples are distributed throughout the Northeast at farmers' markets, supermarkets, schools and restaurants. Consumers get great-tasting, locally grown apples, plus the knowledge that they're supporting farmers who care about their health and the well-being of the environment. And the farmers--well, they make money.

To Deborah Kane, the executive director of The Food Alliance (TFA), the profit motive is a path to economic justice. "We're trying to use the marketplace to pull more growers down an environmentally friendly and socially responsible path," says Kane. Before awarding its seal of approval to a farm's products, TFA evaluates that farm's working conditions and environmental integrity. One TFA-approved farmer built housing on his land in order to accommodate his immigrant workers. Another built a daycare facility on site. Their reward? Recognition by socially conscious shoppers with dollars to spend. "When Food Alliance farmers are getting into new markets, are selling more products and are getting price premiums," explains Kane, "that's something that their neighbors can't ignore."

TransFair USA certifies companies that practice what's called "fair trade," meaning that a significant percentage of the retail price is returned to the producer. According to TransFair, fair traders work with producer cooperatives and ensure that working conditions are good, that benefits are available, and that profits are reinvested in communities. TransFair's first licensed product is coffee. Importers have to agree to buy from small farmers, to pay a minimum "fair trade price" of $1.26 a pound, to develop long-term relationships with farmers, and to deal in "shade-grown" coffee that protects mature forests and songbird habitat.

Agriculture isn't the only industry raising the bar with new eco-labeling programs. Sustainable forestry operations, lumber companies and manufacturers that make products from their timber can all seek certification through the Rainforest Alliance's SmartWood Program. "While the industry by and large canned the idea two to five years ago," notes the program's director, Richard Donovan, "today almost all of the companies are looking at it and doing preliminary assessments to decide whether they want to be certified." Considered in the certification process, among other factors, are the long-term security of the forest, actions taken by the forest managers to ensure watershed stability and biological conservation, and the impact operations have on local communities and employees. Certification isn't a sure thing; many would-be applicants don't meet the standards. "Certified companies aren't the ones that go in there, get the wood out and leave," explains Donovan. "They're companies that plan to stay a while." Today consumers can find the SmartWood label worldwide on everything from furniture and musical instruments to picture frames.

Green Seal of Approval

Another well-known national label, that of Washington, D.C.-based Green Seal, appears on many household products, including paints and cleaners. By analyzing products' life cycles and impacts on the environment, Green Seal develops a set of standards for a particular product category. Once the standard is established, any company can see how its own product measures up. If it meets or exceeds the criteria of the standard, it's eligible for the seal. "The Green Seal," says Arthur Weissman, the company's president, "serves as a signal to consumers that if they buy that product, it will have less impact on the environment than most of the other products in that category."

Of course, just because something has less of an impact on the environment doesn't mean that it's good for the Earth. "Motor oil is always bad for the environment," notes Alexei Monsarrat, program administrator for the Consumer's Choice Council, a nonprofit group working to protect the environment and promote human rights through ecolabeling. "So is it a good thing to say one motor oil is at least somewhat better than the others? To allow producers to say, 'Look, this is how we made this and this is why you may be interested?' Our view is it's worth it if people can find that product and buy it."

Still, don't just dash to the store and fall for every "environmentally friendly" label you see. Not all claims of environmental or social good are legitimate. A general rule: If the label comes directly from the manufacturer or from a private trade association, proceed with caution. It may be "greenwashing," unjustified environmental claims. On the other hand, if the label has been awarded by an independent, third-party program with no vested interest in the product itself, it's probably for real. Consumers Union was recently awarded a $150,000 Ford Foundation grant to sort through the sometimes bewildering thicket of eco-labels and produce a user-friendly informational database.

Ultimately, says Monsarrat, producers look to eco-labeling for one of two reasons: "It's something a business will do because they're looking for the image that kind of thing can confer, or because they really care." Either way, if a product is better for the Earth, then we, as consumers, can put our dollars to work.

CHRIS HAYHURST is a freelance writer in Fort Collins, CO.

Share |

Excellent post share with us

Islamic Vashikaran Totke in Quran

Husband Wife Dispute Relationship Problem Solution

It’s really a nice and helpful piece of information.

_________________
Husband Wife Problem Solution

I appreciate everything you

I appreciate everything you have added to my knowledge base.. great post . Thanks for share with us ..
Vashikaran mantra yantra in hindi
Vashikaran specialist astrologer
Black magic for love
Vashikaran for love
How to get back love
Vashikaran specialist baba

Nice and effective blog post.

Nice and effective blog post. The content is too short but effective. I love the information you share here. Its an well written blog post by you. This is awesome blog post.
Witchcraft Love Vashikaran specialist | Girl Vashikaran hair | Online hypnotism specialist | Vashikaran Mantra | How to do black magic tricks | kala jadu | Online Get love back by vashikaran | World famous best astrologer in India | Love marriage specialist astrologer | Girl Mohini Vashikaran mantra

engineering thermodynamics by

Raksha Bandhan 2016

animal fight

Great article. Reading it makes me think of how writing is central to your webdesign strategy nowadays. Motorola Moto G Dual Sim With so much emphasis on the actual content on your website and quality of writing I think small business owners need to step up to the plate in a sense and become writers to really succeed. animals fights to death

THanks Admin

Well this article that i've been waited for so long. I need this article to complete my assignment in the college, and it has same topic with your article. Thanks, great share.
Photoshop easier with PS Masterclass 2016 Review - Octosuite Review Social Media Tool E-commerce Firesale Review Best Training Course about COPYWritting QIC Review And New Training Course about Marketer Live Review

as

(No subject)

العاب بنات

العاب بنات

celeb sex scandals

Great article. Reading it makes me think of how writing is central to your webdesign strategy nowadays. Motorola Moto G Dual Sim With so much emphasis on the actual content on your website and quality of writing I think small business owners need to step up to the plate in a sense and become writers to really succeed. Celebrity cheating scandals

Well this article that i've

Well this article that i've been waited for so long. I need this article to complete my assignment in the college, and it has same topic with your article. Thanks, great share.
dark souls 3 emoji
slitherio

happy christmas

Frohes Neues Jahr 2017
bilder weihnachten 2016
frohe weihnachten polnisch
frohe weihnachten 2016 spanisch
sexdcrfvtgbhnjvdybfgynhji,k dryghijk
UTG U RF I8F T6I.8RF 6. LO

I found so many great

I found so many great information in your blog, especially its discussion. From the many of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the pleasure here! Keep up the good work.
العاب تلبيس

to know about deep web visit

Kopi

https://jasonmemiler.wordpress.com/
http://jasonmemiler.hpage.com/

Wonderful beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your site, how could i subscribe for a blog website? The account aided me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright clear concept

loki

I conceive this website contains some rattling wonderful information for everyone :D. We rarely think people have good sense unless they agree with us.

http://jasonmemiler.nation2.com/
http://french-open-20164.webnode.com/

thanks man

thank you is fantastic words i like it and thank you for sharing this information.
jeux4banat العاب طبخ بنات جديدة ورائعة فقط على

Tour de France 2016 Results

Tour de France 2016 is very interesting cycling event. It goes through 22 stages to complete this race. You can find every single detail about it on our website.
TDF 2016

Wimbledon Open 2016 Tennis

Wimbledon Open 2016 Tennis is one of four grand slam of tennis. This year it is going to be more interesting and fun.
Wimbledon 2016

Copa America Centenario

Copa America 2016 is football event that comes after 4 years. This year it will be played in Centenario. You can find every detail on our website.
Copa America 2016 Centenario

French Open 2016

We all know that French Open 2016 Tennis is one of the biggest tennis tournament. You can find related information about it on this website. Grab latest info here on French Open Tennis Schedule. Dont leave a chance to get
French Open Tennis 2016 details.

Fastest Matka result

We always give you satta Matka result

Best Result Here
Matka result

Best Satta Matka Site

Find Fix Satta Matka Number Click Here

sattamatka

rumah kayu

check cashing

On the net it one’s own blog post considering and also attempting to find various understanding of the application very nearly three or more days. At present go here check cashing Thanks for your time a great deal.