Businesses and individuals are increasingly striving to reduce the environmental impacts of their purchasing decisions. As consumers have demanded environmentally responsible alternatives, providers have begun offering lower impact (often called “greener”) products and services.  Unfortunately, it can be difficult for consumers to objectively evaluate a product or service’s relative level of environmental impact on their own. In many cases, consumers have neither the time, nor the information to conduct their own evaluations of each potential purchase; fortunately, third-party environmental labels and certifications can help consumers identify better purchases.

Environmental Labels and Certifications promote products and services that are environmentally preferable according to sustainability criteria laid out by NGOs, industry experts and third-party scientists. Certified (or ‘qualified’) products are able to display a recognizable logo or symbol on the packaging, product literature, and/or the product itself, indicating that the labeled product or service has met certain requirements or standards as set out by the certifying organization. Credible labels and certifications provide assurance and information to help you make better informed purchasing decisions.

We are pleased to introduce a compilation of some of the most common environmental labels and certifications found in today’s market. This resource provides brief descriptions, images, and links to help you further research, identify and select environmental labels in the store, or in catalogues or vendor information materials. Some labels may be better than others; however, this resource does not distinguish between these and Sustainable Waterloo Region does not endorse any of these labels and certifications.

The Environmental Labels and Certifications Primer is not exhaustive; rather, it is meant to act as a primer and foundation for your foray into the world of responsible consumerism. It was created as an Appendix to the Directory of Sustainable Initiatives, one of Sustainable Waterloo Region’s ‘living’ documents, which is a collection of initiatives that businesses can undertake to reduce their carbon, water, and waste impacts. The Primer is also available on MemberLink.

If you come across more labels and certifications that protect resources important to you or your organization, we urge you to look deeper. Some labels may promote products without undergoing 3rd party verification of their environmental claims. Some labels may not measure up to your organization’s standards or may be an inferior choice compared to other labels.

For more information Sustainable Waterloo Region’s Living Documents, please don’t hesitate to contact Matthew Day at, ‘’

If you have more questions about eco labels, feel free to give me a shout.

Nicholas Cloet