We all know that eco-labels have gone haywire in the last few years. It seems like practically every product on the shelf supports some sort of green leaf telling you how environmentally friendly it is, but is it real or a bunch of bunk? Consumer Reports is helping us sort through the hype with a new iPhone app called Eco-Label.
The app is $0.99 on iTunes and probably will save you that much and more in headache medicine. It is essentially a mobile version of Greenerchoices.org, which provides independent reviews of common terms on labels and says which are meaningful or not.
When you're in a store, you can search alphabetically or by product, and get information about what you're looking at on the shelf. You can also get a label "report card" that will tell you which labels are making truthful claims and which are full of, well, you know.
Consumer Reports writes, "The best labels are meaningful, verified, consistent, transparent, and independent. They are those that have been developed with broad public and industry input. General claims are those made voluntarily by the company and certified claims are generally those that have been approved by another certification group. While the term"organic" is highly meaningful on most foods, some products that claim to be such, like fish or fertilizers, do not have to meet the standards of the National Organic Program. Sustainable labels should address environmental, social and/or health concerns regarding products and production practices. Labels vary in breadth and depth of coverage, even very specific labels like "no growth promoters," can add value to the conventional baseline."
The short story is eco-labels have become a confusing overload of untrustworthy information, and an app like this -- or that of GoodGuide and other trusted non-profits and organizations -- can help you make sense of it all and make the best purchases.