Walking with Giants
Little did we think in 2012 when the Eco-Choice ecolabel was launched that we would one day be welcomed into the global ecolabel movement as a member of the Global Ecolabel Network (GEN). Yet today, here we are - a full member of this prestigious body of Type 1 ecolabels from around the world.
And what makes this even more significant - and rewarding for us, is that Eco-Choice Africa has achieved this milestone in spite of the many hurdles that we have had to face. Over the years, Eco-Choice has simply been brushed-off as an unimportant part of doing business in southern Africa by companies and organisations that should have known better. Now, for the first time in the manufacturing and consumer history of this country, South Africa - and indeed southern Africa, has a world-class ecolabel that holds its own with the likes of the Blue Angel (German) EU Flower (EU), The Swan (Nordic Countries) and labels from Japan to the United States, Great Britain and Australia.
Now, it will take vision and commitment by local manufacturers, retailers and indeed, consumers to ensure that Eco-Choice becomes the label of choice in this country. There is no longer any excuse for manufacturers and retailers to make use of international ecolabels - often at the risk to our environment and consumers, when they have a home-grown, internationally competitive and globally recognised label right here on their doorstep. Because organisations, manufacturers or retailers say their products or services are environmentally safe or sustainable doesn't necessarily make it so.
The true test will now be to see how manufacturers and local companies embrace this achievement and how consumers in southern Africa join the fight to eliminate greenwashing and patently harmful environmental and personal practices by most manufacturers and retailers. How many will continue believing-in and supporting labels that are neither transparent nor competitive - or which make claims to be sustainable in the absence of peer-review or transparent standards? Will the Green Building Council of South Africa now start recognising labels other than their own and stop the clear bias they have to in-house and affiliated labels that are neither local nor members of the GEN? Will they stop creating barriers for compliant manufacturers and suppliers, or better still - stop misleading their clients about the status of labels that they can't control or influence? And will our competitors start being honest about their status and recognise the achievements of Eco-Choice Africa? We hope so, but time will tell.
The fact is that Eco-Choice has managed to do what no other African eco-label has done to date. We have gone through an extensive evaluation and peer review by the Global Ecolabel Network (GEN) and assessed by an independent panel of peers to ensure that our standards, methodology and administrative systems meet globally recognised standards of compliance. Our claims are very different to those of our competitors - in spite of anything they might say, and it's time that manufacturers retailers and consumers start making the right choices and decisions when selecting their eco-label partner.
Simply put. If the products or services that you currently use are not ecolabelled by a globally recognised body such as the GEN, start asking questions about the motives of the manufacturer or retailer. Unless they are prepared to meet the stringent ISO standards and the transparent processes guaranteed by the GEN for Type 1 ecolabels, they should be regarded with suspicion and relegated to the greenwash category. Let them put their money where their mouths are and comply with the requirements of Type 1 labels, or at the very least, be honest about what it is they stand for.,
Join us on this journey and help make southern Africa the most environmentally responsible source market for consumer products.