First, it was the chasing arrows signifying recyclable products in 1969. Then, the "not tested on animals" label debuted in 1989, followed by the more-recent USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade labels. Now, be on the lookout for three new consumer labels that will help you choose products that are potentially more environmentally friendly.
Beginning mid-year, the Federal Trade Commission will require a new Lighting Facts Label for all medium screw base bulbs.
This new label shows brightness in lumen, projected lifetime, energy used, estimated energy cost and light appearance – a scale from warm to cool.
The label supports the Energy Independence and Security Act, which will phase out inefficient incandescent light bulbs by 2012. It’s important for consumers to understand that wattage will no longer be used to explain light bulbs; as the new label will highlight, people will have to rely on lumen to select the proper light bulb for the job.
The recently released WindMade label comes from WindMade, a company that specializes in informing consumers about corporations’ use of wind energy as well as increasing demand for products that use renewable energy.
The label will alert consumers that products are made using wind energy. WindMade suggests that the energy used to produce a product is as important an ingredient as any other information consumers would look for on packaging.
The WindMade Standard that will be used to identify which companies and products can be considered for the label is still being defined and will be up for public consultation in March. The company hopes to introduce the final, official standard on Global Wind Day on June 15.
The label, which is part of the BioPreferred program, will help consumers identify products that are made from biological materials – usually corn – that decompose rather than need to be recycled.
Companies interested in displaying the label have to apply with the USDA. Products in the personal and institutional cleaning products, construction products and lubricant and greases categories must meet the minimum biobased content for that category. Companies not in those pre-determined categories must have at least 25 percent biobased materials.
The USDA estimates that there are 20,000 biobased products already being manufactured in the U.S.