Remember back in July when the green world was abuzz with horror upon learning that Apple wanted to be removed from the EPEAT environmentally preferred products list? The backlash was so swift that Apple quickly reversed course and posted a letter stating that they would be going back on the EPEAT list but that “much of our [environmental] progress has come in areas not yet measured by EPEAT”. This highlights a big problem that touches every segment of the green products spectrum – mainly, what do you do when the measurements of your progress can’t keep up with your innovation?
It’s pretty wonderful that this question is so frequently asked considering it indicates that companies in many sectors are pushing for more eco-innovations. But it also causes a lot of problems for those that go beyond the measuring stick because a rock star in sustainable electronics like Apple ranks in the middle upper range on something like the EPEAT list simply because certain “green” aspects of their electronics don’t show up on the list. And these lists weigh heavily on the buying decisions of large organizations like the entire San Francisco city government.
Organic regulations have also not been adjusted to accommodate the particulars of cosmetics, personal care items, textiles, and cleaning supplies, creating problems such as the organic soap bar conundrum
. The result is a shelf full of organic claims, some of which have been certified, and many that have not, causing a weakening of the Organic brand
and mystifying consumers.
The NOP board has loads of problems and their fare share of controversy
, but manufacturers must never forget that certification serves the vast majority of their customers who are busy people with hectic lives and many other concerns. They rely on certifications and 3rd party seals to help them make decisions and figure out what’s good for them. So go beyond organic, but get the certification and seal for your busy customers. Then join an advocacy group like the Organic Trade Association
which is lobbying to improve the NOP regulations for the benefit of consumers and food purveyors. It’s a two pronged approach that has more hope of helping all parties than an all-out ban.