Labels to look for
It can be confusing sorting through the claims made by companies in order to work out which products really are ethical or environmentally sustainable.
However there are a variety of ethical standards organisations that provide independent guarantees about the ethical credentials of products. They approve the use of their system's label on these products so we can look out for them when we shop.
In the directory the categorisation information for each business entry shows when they have products carrying one of these ethical standards labels.
Setting and guaranteeing standards
The ethical standards labels organisations often specialise in different fields and set codes of practice relating to specific areas such as ecological sustainability, social justice, human and animal welfare.
To provide a guarantee that their ethical codes of practice are kept to the organisations generally audit key stages in product supply chains, often using independent certification bodies to do so. This verifies that ethical standards are being maintained.
To find out more about the specific codes of practice each standards organisation sets, and how the ethical standards are guaranteed, please see each organisations' information, label and website link listed below.
British Vegan Society Approved
The Vegan logo is a registered trademark and is a symbol of Vegan 'animal-free' Standards. It appears on thousands of animal free products and is displayed by catering businesses, that have been registered with The Vegan Society.
EU Organic Euro Leaf
Logo for food that has been produced to the EU Commission's organic standards. Products are certified by bodies accredited by the member state's relevant government department – DEFRA in the case of the UK.
Ensures fair prices are paid to developing world producers for products and decent working conditions and environmental criteria are met.
Freedom Food RSPCA Monitered
Freedom Food approve farms that keep animals to mandatory RSPCA welfare standards, higher than UK/EU legal requirements. Criteria is set at levels to encourage higher standards industry wide not just for top range products.
Marine Stewardship Council
This label is displayed on products verified as originating from certified sustainable fisheries. Covers wild-capture fisheries not farmed fish.
Nordic Swan Ecolabel
Indicates environmentally friendly products. Criteria is based on life cycle analyses, from raw materials used to the recycling of the finished product.
Soil Association Organic Standard
Ensures all stages of a product supply chain have kept to strict organic standards exceeding UK/EU organic standards particularly in relation to animal welfare, GM and pesticide use.
Vegetarian Society Approved
The Vegetarian Society Seeding Symbol certifies that the product is free from animal flesh, meat bone or any ingredients resulting from slaughter. Only free-range eggs are used, free from GMOs, cruelty free, no cross-contamination.
Links to Ethical FAQs (Food):
How are vegetarian and vegan options more environmentally sustainable?
What is the difference between Fairtrade and fairly-traded?
What do the terms organic, biodynamic and permaculture mean?
Global Organic Textile Standard
Ensures organic status of textiles, and environmentally and socially responsible work practices throughout the supply chain from harvesting of raw materials, to manufacture and distribution of end product.
This label ensures that rugs imported from South Asia have not been made using illegal child labour. Also provides support and educational opportunities to rescued children and poor weaving communities.
Approved companies no longer conduct or commission animal testing, or buy animal tested ingredients, throughout their supply chain. Scheme operates across the world.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
Products with this label contain wood or pulp sourced from forests managed in an environmentally and socially responsible way and/or from recycled sources.
The Rainforest Alliance offers verification and validation services related to timber legality, logging, high conservation value forests and forest-based carbon projects under a variety of standards.
National Energy Services accreditation, training and software for energy and property professionals
Stroma Code for Sustainable Homes Registered Assessor
The Green Register The Green Register of Construction Professionals
The Passivhaus Trust Promoting the Passivhaus Standard for home improvement
The Sustainable Building Association learning together, leading by example, lobbying for change
Green Tourism Approved
The aim of the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) criteria is to offer guidelines to tourism businesses on how to make their operations more sustainable. They have ten categories from marketing and communication, to energy and water.
Association of Green Funeral Directors
The Association expects its members to always aim for the highest level of service possible, both personal and practical. Their ethical and environmental criteria covers the following: embalming, marketing, coffins, natural burial and flowers.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
Paper with this label contain wood or pulp sourced from forests managed in an environmentally and socially responsible way and/or from recycled sources.
The Responsible Print logo shows that every effort has been made to specify and produce the printed item in an environmentally sensitive and sustainable way.
Ethical Consumer Best Buy
Rates products on wide range of ethical issues across product life cycle including environmental impact, social justice, human and animal welfare. Companies can only join the scheme by invitation
Approval refers to:
Ethics of individual products but brand subject to strict ethics checks too.
For products with lowest environmental impact based on product life-cycle, from raw materials, through production, distribution and disposal.
Link to Ethical FAQs
Do ethical standards labels approve brands or products?