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'Looking Closer' at sustainability

Today, we celebrate World Ecolabel Day, an international campaign to raise awareness of the important role that ecolabels play in our lives and of the need for consumers to take a closer look at the claims being made by their chosen products and services.

World Ecolabel Day is celebrated on the second Thursday in October each year as a day to focus on ecolabelled products and services that are proven to be environmentally preferable and performance tested, so consumers are ensured the best products for their health and the health of the planet. Consumers, companies and communities worldwide celebrate this event by discovering the ecolabels available in their own countries, buying and using third-party certified products and services, and sharing the good news with family, friends, neighbours and co-workers.

Since the Global Ecolabelling Network launched the first World Ecolabel Day in 2018 it has seen growth in popularity every year. In more than 50 territories and countries around the world, independent, third-party tested ecolabels exist to ensure that the products and services you purchase are certified to reduce environmental impact. Ecolabel products and services are recognised as best-in-class and are held to the strictest environmental standards that exist. They are proven to be environmentally preferable to all other kinds of products you could buy because ecolabels are independently third-party tested to ensure that you’re getting a product that is CERTIFIED GREEN so consumers can trust its environmental integrity.

In our modern economy, manufacturers have realised the value of positioning their products and services as 'green', and this has seen a rise in the number of products bearing terms such as 'Earth Friendly', 'Green', Environmentally Friendly', and many more terms designed to confuse and mislead consumers about the integrity of the products they buy. World Ecolabel Day hopes to educate and increase awareness of consumers to look more closely at the labels on products they purchase and to recognise truly independent labels that have been internationally approved.

Greenwashing is the process used to mask the environmental, social and personal risks of consumer products and unfortunately, there are too many examples of this in South Africa - even from trusted retail brands, manufacturers and resellers, and consumers need to insist on recognised ecolabels for their preferred products and services. By pressuring manufacturers to abandon marketing statements and labels, they should be aligning with labels recognised by the Global Ecolabel Network in the interests of our rights as enshrined in the Constitution.

Only you - the consumer, can make this happen so when you go shopping today and into the future, check the label and don't be fooled by claims made on the packaging. Question the claims that are being made and insist on a recognised ecolabel for your favourite brands.

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