Rainforest tree leaf in Uganda. How to find out if companies are eco-friendly

SUPPORT COMPANIES THAT DON'T HURT THE ENVIRONMENT

Today, some companies are concerned about the environment. These companies look for ways to reduce their impact on the world around them through recycling, using less energy, and supporting conservation efforts in other countries. If consumers like you and your parents support these companies by buying their products and services, the environment will be better off.

One way to learn what companies have responsible practices is to ask a local environmental group or do research online. Beware that some companies try to mislead people about their environmental record. It’s best to seek independent opinions on the environmental practices of a company rather than relying solely on what a company states on its own web site.

Another way to learn which companies are making efforts to reduce their environmental impact is to check whether their products have been eco-certified, which means that an independent group has evaluated the environmental impact of its products. Examples of eco-certification initiatives are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) for wood products, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for palm oil, and the Rainforest Alliance Marketplace for other products. None of these systems are perfect, but they are often better than the alternative: non-certified products. Be sure to do a little research about eco-certification, because sometimes companies use fake certification systems.

Some companies have established policies that exclude products produced by cutting down rainforests. For example, Nestle, Mars, and Kellogg's have promised that the palm oil they use will be free of deforestation.

Companies that support forest conservation directly

One way to determine the "eco-credentials" of a company is to learn whether it has has policies that minimize or "offset" the pollution it produces. In the near future, companies will be able to support rainforest conservation and "offset" emissions by sponsoring forest protection in tropical countries. The idea is called "avoided deforestation" or REDD (which stands for "Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation") and could become an important source of funds for global rainforest conservation.


By Rhett Butler

Date published: June 24, 2004 | Last updated: March 21, 2014