Wall Street Journal Story on Eco-Label Skepticism

On April 2, the Wall Street Journal ran an article headlined, “What do Labels Really Tell You? As Eco-Seals Proliferate, So Do Doubts.” (Here is the link to the article, but you need a subscription)

I agree with the premise of the article, namely that with so many emerging eco-labels it is important for consumers to be able to differentiate those with sound credentials from those that are simply green washing. The article even mentioned forest certification, citing the Forest Stewardship Council, the American Tree Farm System and the Tropical Forest Foundation. To call their attention to SFI, we submitted this letter to the Journal the same day:

April 2, 2009
Letter to the Editor
Wall Street Journal

While we certainly respect the forest certification programs mentioned in “What do Labels Really Tell You? As Eco-Seals Proliferate, So Do Doubts” (April 2), absent from the list was the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, an independent non-profit recognized by government and consumer groups across North America. EcoLogo, TerraChoice’s highly respected North American certification program mentioned in the article, recognizes SFI in the paper products category.

While disappointed in SFI’s omission, the article did capture the growing skepticism about green claims and a desire for consumers to be able to differentiate those with sound credentials from those that are correctly characterized by TerraChoice as green washing. While there is not a single body or government entity to confirm the validity of a green claim, consumers can look for some key indicators, such as the evaluation of a group like TerraChoice. Likewise, the American Consumer Council has developed key criteria to evaluate the credibility of green certification programs and SFI has met their criteria.

SFI is a fully independent, non-profit charitable organization that promotes sustainable forest management and also has a labeling program so that buyers and consumers can source paper, packaging, and solid wood products from 3rd party certified well-managed forests and other responsible sources of supply.

We appreciate the Wall Street Journal’s focus on green claims, but would have hoped that you highlighted certification programs and labels that are worthy of an environmental claim.

We will let you know if it is published.

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