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In the world of sustainability there are many words and labels to keep track of. You've probably heard most of them before but what do they really mean? In order for us to help you to live more environmentally conscious lives, we have summarized the ones we think are the most important ones to know.
Organic farming or production of materials and products means that they are produced within the framework of certain principles, objectives and practical measures. The purpose of these is that the agricultural system should function as naturally as possible. For example, production completely without pesticides and fertilizers. In order to maintain a certain standard, one must have a certification of an association that sets requirements, rules and controls production. The certification can also vary depending on whether it is food, fabric or furniture that is produced.
Sustainability has many different meanings depending on where it is placed, but for us it has the greatest importance in relation to sustainable consumption and production. Our planet has given us assets for natural resources, but unfortunately we have not been able to use this in a responsible way since we consume far above our assets. Sustainable consumption and production means that we reduce our ecological footprint by changing how we use and refine our resources.
Part of the sustainable development is that it not only has great benefits for the environment but also for social and economic aspects such as improved health, reduced poverty and increased employment. Sustainable development is necessary to reduce our negative impact on our environment and the earth's climate.
Recycling means procurement of materials. It can be anything from waste of different kinds to materials from for example clothes. When you recover these materials, they are broken down to a state where you can then produce a new type of material that can be used. Recycling material is an important component of sustainable development. Being able to replace virgin raw materials with recycled raw materials is important to reduce our use of natural resources.
The fact that something is locally produced means that the product is produced in the vicinity of where it is consumed. The purpose of the concept of locally produced products is to reduce the transport distances and therefore lower climate emissions and at the same time benefit local producers and local businesses. However, locally produced does not impose any requirement on the production's impact on the environment. In many cases, production can affect the environment more than transport. When locally produced is combined with any of the following labels, it is always the best option.
Sustainable Development Goals
The Global Goals and Agenda 2030 are an agreement for sustainable development. The global goals cover three dimensions of sustainability: environmental, economical and social. In 2015, the members of the UN took on 17 ambitious goals, which in turn has 169 sub-goals and 230 global indicators.
“With the Global Goals, world leaders have committed to achieving three great things by 2030; to abolish extreme poverty, to reduce inequalities in the world and to solve the climate crisis.” UNDP
The 17 goals are:
- No poverty
- No hunger
- Health and well-being
- Good education for everyone
- Clean water and sanitation
- Sustainable energy for everyone
- Decent working conditions and economic growth
- Sustainable industry, innovations and infrastructure
- Reduce inequality
- Sustainable cities and communities
- Sustainable consumption and production
- Combating climate change
- Sea and marine resources
- Ecosystem and biodiversity
- Peaceful and inclusive societies
- Implementation and global partnership
KRAV is a Swedish association that works to develop rules for organic farming, animal husbandry, processing and services, and set rules for certification, control and labeling of organic products. They also conduct marketing and information activities regarding KRAV-labeled goods. KRAV is Sweden's most famous eco-label. The rules for KRAV labeling comply with the EU regulation requirements for organic production. Therefore, KRAV-labeled products are also marketed as organic. KRAV's rules are reviewed by Swedac regarding certifiable according to ISO / IEC 17065: 2012.
GOTS, which stands for Global Organic Textile Standard, is the world-leading textile handling standard for organic fibers. The standard includes ecological and social criteria and is based on independent certification for the entire textile supply chain. The goal of GOTS is to define globally recognized requirements that ensure the ecological status of textiles, from the harvest of raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labeling in order to provide credible insurance to the end consumer. Textile manufacturers then have the opportunity to export their organic fabrics and garments with a certification that is accepted in all major markets. The standard covers the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, trading and distribution of all textiles manufactured from at least 70% certified organic natural fiber.
Good Environmental Choice
Good Environmental Choice is an independent label that is conducted by the environmental organization Naturskyddsföreningen. They label products and services in nine different business areas. Good Environmental Choice strives for a sustainable society and is based on two basic ideas. Firstly, that we must be scarce with the resources of nature and that human health and biodiversity must not be threatened. To achieve these goals, all toxic and degradable chemicals must be removed. Good environmental choice is a third party marking which means that rules and requirements are not adapted to certain companies or products. The labeling is always based on the best of the environment.
EU Eco Label
EU Eco Lable is an eco-label that is recognized in Europe and worldwide. This label is awarded to products and services that meet high environmental standards throughout its life cycle: from the extraction of raw material to production, distribution and disposal. The EU Eco Lable promotes the circular economy by encouraging producers to generate less waste and carbondioxide during the manufacturing process. The label also encourages companies to develop products that are durable, easy to repair and to recycle. They provide controls from a third party by setting demanding guidelines for companies that want to reduce their environmental impact. They also offer guidance on best environmental practices in product development.
Fairtrade is a certification for sustainable development. They safeguard international trade based on respect for human rights and consideration for the environment. Its purpose is to conduct a sustainable trade that favors the first lead of the trading chain, where the conditions are usually the worst. Fairtrade helps growers and employees gain better knowledge of their rights, greater livelihoods and a stronger position on the world market. To obtain this certification, one has to fulfill a number of requirements throughout the entire chain of trade.
The Swan is an independent type 1 eco-label that is run on behalf of the government, without any industry or profit interest. The labeling is voluntary, but with the aim of helping consumers live a more environmentally friendly life. They work with experts in the field, the industry and stakeholders' views to produce requirements. Their work is completely transparent and they ensure that the requirements are as good and tough as possible.