Third Party Certifications
The short-term financial interests of producers and manufacturers often conflict with environmentally- and socially-responsible practice. Because of this, consumers who strive to align their spending with values increasingly seek the assurance of a growing number of third-party certifiers. In the United States dozens of government agencies, non-profits, and even for-profit organizations systematically evaluate products, services, and company practices on a wide variety of sustainability criteria.
When using third-party certifications to help make responsible purchasing decisions, it is important to be aware of two things. First, there is a difference between: 1) a rigorous onsite auditing process, and 2) a screening process that takes for granted the claims of manufacturers without independent confirmation. The chance of bad information and even misinformation isclearly higher with the later. Second, it is important to understand how the standards for certification came to be and who had influence over their making. Organizations set-up and funded by industry groups have at times adopted less than stringent certification criteria.
Third-party certifications are granted to both products and companies. Product certification does not necessarily speak to the environmental or social responsibility of the manufacturer. Likewise, company certification does not necessarily mean the products made by that company are green. TheGreenOffice.com itself does not audit or certify product or company attributes. Instead, our Green Screen relies on the expertise of over ten carefully selected third-party certifiers and screeners.
Manufacturers and companies interested in communicating to consumers the environmental or social benefits of their product or practice can begin by contacting applicable third-party certifiers. A number of local governments now administer green company certification programs as a free service. TheGreenOffice.com offers expert sustainability consulting towards both product and company certification. In general, seek reputable third-party certifiers that remain independent of the industries and companies they monitor. Certification from these organizations ensures the integrity of your product or company and will be respected by your target audience.