Reading labels is an important part of shopping that ensures you are only spending your money in a way that supports your personal ideals and values. Sadly, the more new symbols and assurances that are created, the harder deceptive product sellers work to fool their buyers.
If you want to ensure that you choose eco-friendly products, it’s important to understand how to read labels so that you know what to avoid and what to watch out for. Also, if you do make a mistake occasionally, learn from it, let people know what you learned, and move on.
General and Broad Claims
When a product makes any claims that are overly general and broad, you should become immediately suspicious. Just stating that something is eco-friendly or organic or any of those keywords is not enough. The label must state exactly what makes this product “eco-friendly” or organic, or whatever their claims are.
Avoiding Listing Specific Benefits
If the creator or the person marketing it doesn’t list specific benefits and keeps everything general, that is also suspect. Read through all the information and realize that if they are very general, it’s because they have no proof and are trying to skirt the regulations.
Assess the Trade-Offs
As you read labels, it is important to understand the trade-offs of choosing any product. For example, one product may be eco-friendly inside, but the packaging may not be so great. Maybe their manufacturing process is not the eco-friendliest even though the product is.
Check Scientific Claims
If they make any scientific claims, these need to be backed up with the research. You should be able to find it on their website, but if you cannot, you should be able to ask them for it. The research may be boring, but reading it can reassure you. Scammers are counting on you not reading it.
Seals and Claims without Substantiation
When they put any type of “eco” seal on their labels, it would be nice to assume they had a right to do it. However, if they aren’t substantiating why and how they are qualified to display that seal, they probably shouldn’t be displaying it.
Double Check Third-Party Claims
A lot of companies love using “third-party” companies to verify their claims about the ingredients or effectiveness of their products. However, who is that third party? Is it easy to check with them about the company’s claim?
Is It Really Degradable?
A lot of times one of the claims made is to state that the item is biodegradable. But is it? What parts are biodegradable? Is the product going to be put in a landfill? Where? How long does it take to degrade?
Is “Free of” Really Free?
According to regulations, companies can claim something is “free of” an ingredient even when a little of that ingredient is inside. If you are allergic to something or want to avoid it, you will need to ask them about trace ingredients and where they list them.
Are Recyclables Really Recycled?
When they use the recycled symbol, check and ask them what their products were really made from. Some deceptive practitioners will make a claim when it’s just a label made on recycled paper or a lid.
When you buy anything, it’s imperative to understand who made it, what company promotes it, and the science behind any claims. While most manufacturers try to protect their products, there are also instances of fake products out there that look like the real thing. Read all labels and do your due diligence before making a purchase.