You see labels for all manner of things these days. Some of them carry more weight than others. While you may feel like you’re dealing with a little case of label and certification overload, or fear that with so many misleading labels out there, none of them can be trusted, it’s wise to explore the labels that are available and what they may mean for your shopping experiences.
One that is of particular interest to people interested in making buying decisions that are good for their families and for the planet to be on the lookout for is the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, or SFI, label. These are some of the highlights about this particular label.
What’s the Big Deal about the SFI Label?
When you consider the fact that we seem to be overrun by labels promising varying degrees of environmental friendliness among goods and products, some people have a tendency to dismiss them all. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative label is different than many others because there are very specific standards in place, and verification occurs through an independent audit by a third party.
By purchasing products bearing the SFI label, you are making purchasing decisions in support of businesses that offer these products and the companies that are going out of their way to create products that are sustainable.
There are three different SFI labels for fiber content that reveal specific information about the products that have these labels.
SFI – Certified Sourcing Label
What this label tells consumers is that the fiber in the products they purchase come from companies that meet requirements for SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard, from a certified forest, or from recycled content. In order to carry the label, all fiber must be sourced without controversy.
SFI – Certified Chain of Custody
In order for products to carry this label, the chain of custody for the fiber is tracked to certified forest, certified sourcing, and post-consumer materials that are recycled. Before the label can be used, a threshold of 70 percent certified forest or recycled materials must be used in the product.
SFI – Certified Chain of Custody (with percentages)
This chain of custody label is different in that it shows the exact percentages of fiber from appropriate sources and discloses them on the label itself.
What Kinds of Products Carry SFI Labels?
The label is available for a wide range of products. Chances are, they are available for products you purchase every day. Some of the common products that carry these labels include:
- Milk cartons
- School supplies
- Paper cups
- Paper plates
- Paper (almost any type of paper product – including paper)
The key is to look for the label anytime you buy paper products and in product packaging. Reward businesses and organizations that offer these products with your business and punish those that do not by taking your business elsewhere.
About the Sustainable Forestry Initiative
More than a certification process, SFI actively works to promote conservation within the forestry community. Their goals are to promote biodiversity, preserve wildlife habitats, and to conserve fresh water.
There are 34 local SFI committees that work with existing community resources, such as Habitat for Humanity to support green building initiatives in the building of habitat homes.
Additionally, Tree Hugger reports that these same committees have logged more than 4,000 volunteer hours, PLUS the donation of certified building materials to support this and similar causes.
The goal is to provide an opportunity for low-income working families to not only have their own homes, but to have homes that are environmentally friendly homes for their families to live in.
How can You Help Improve the Results of this Initiative?
The question left for consumers, though, is how you can take action now to let retailers know it matters that they follow through by providing you with the choice of purchasing items carrying the SFI label.
Consumers often forget how powerful the pocketbook can be. Especially if you take the time and make the effort to educate business managers and owners about why you’re making the purchasing decisions you make. Write letters, make phone calls, and take to social media to explain why things like SFI labeling is so important.
It’s not just about educating businesses and business owners, though. It’s also about educating other consumers about the need for this type of label, from independent, third-party entities that ensure more products are being made with sustainable materials and methods.
Sometimes, though, the best thing you can do is make positive changes and live a life that’s positive for the planet. Set the example rather than attempting to shape the story. Buying products with the SFI label is a great place to begin.
Buying SFI Label Products Gives Back in More Ways Too
It’s not just about the planet anymore. With so many local organizations partnered with SFI committees, purchasing products with the label helps to give back to local communities, just like yours.
It begins with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, which was discussed above. But, it doesn’t end there. SFI initiatives help with the greening of major metropolitan areas, like Detroit, by organizing volunteers to plant so many trees each year. The Boy Scouts of America also benefit from the efforts of SFI by receiving certified wood kits for building derby cars.
On a global scale SFI helps through education and certifications that forest acres are responsibly managed. In the U.S. and in Canada there are more than ¼ billion acres that are certified according to the SFI standards.
These certifications ensure that the work done in these forestry areas will not harm the planet or the people who live and work in the area. It’s a great way to ensure that the materials produced there can be purchased in good faith.
Making purchasing decisions that are good for your family, the planet, and your conscience is always good. Educating yourself about certifications and labels available can go a long way towards helping you make responsible decisions you can feel really good about – regardless of the products you’re purchasing.
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