What Labels Really Mean

what labels really meanAdvertisers are always trying to convince us that their product is healthier, safer, and greener than the competition. But with so many general, overused buzzwords like "eco-friendly" and "green" flying around, it's difficult to decipher what's what. Here are some words to keep an eye out for when reading labels...


According to The Conscious Consumer blog, the following green advertising claims found on countless products are vague, meaningless, and often misleading:

  • Natural
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Nontoxic
  • Fragrance-free or unscented
  • Free range
  • Hormone-free
  • Antibiotic-free
  • Eco-friendly, environmentally preferable, or eco-safe
  • Green

Instead, it is recommended that you look for specific claims such as:

  • Made from post-consumer recycled paper
  • Formaldehyde-free
  • No additives
  • No animal byproducts
  • No parabens
  • Phosphate-free

For expert evaluation on what the labels mean on your favorite food, wood, personal, and cleaning products, check out Consumer Reports' Greener Choices Eco-labels Center.

Do you have any tips for determining which labels you can or can't trust?

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