Communicating Sustainable Impact December 16, 2021 by Leah Wolfe

A few themes we explore in this session:

  • How can we educate the average consumer to help them grasp the term “kg of CO2e” and other complex sustainability impact indicators when labeling products?
  • How can we show a nuanced view of a product’s impact?
  • What can we do to build and/or restore consumer trust when it comes to labels and certifications?
Elizabeth Whitlow Regenerative Organic Alliance

There was a time when the term regenerative was pretty new and it wasn’t just rolling off people’s tongues. Now you’re hearing it everywhere and it’s become quite the buzzword, which is awesome in many ways, but it’s also a concern because we don’t want this to get watered down and turned into something like “natural” or “sustainable”, without any serious credentials system behind it. That part is really important in making sure to keep it meaningful.

Mary Linnell-Simmons FairTrade America

We’ve been seeing this a lot in our industry recently where a large multinational will just go their own way and create their own label to meet their own criteria, which on the one hand is good for achieving the goals that they particularly have in mind. On the other hand, it is always inherently biased because the company’s ultimate goal in many cases is to be profitable, which is sometimes in direct contrast to the wellbeing of workers or farmers, for example. This kind of trend of some self-certificate is in all honesty, just fake labeling.

I won’t say who, but there’s a local coffee company that has just created a “fair trade label” that has no meaning or backing behind it in terms of any of the certification schemes out there. It really does diminish people’s trust when they see all these labels, but they don’t necessarily know which can be trusted. So that regularity and consistency across products, across brands, across commodities of seeing the same little logo is really important to continue to build that trust and authenticity.

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