The following article comes from the Sparta Expositor and spells it out pretty simply:
Many families today are looking for ways to minimize their exposure to harsh chemical fumes and residues. But as they look for new alternatives, they are not looking to compromise on the performance they have come to expect from all sorts of home products.
Understanding Label Language
There are a lot of product labels that use words like “eco-friendly,” “organic,” and “nontoxic.” Unlike the food world, when it comes to cleaning products, these terms are largely unregulated, so they can be misleading.
Read past the vague claims and take a closer look at the product’s label. Here’s what to look for:
- Plant-Based Ingredients. Look for plant-based ingredients rather than petroleum-based ones. For example, citric acid, which is derived from citrus fruits like lemons and limes, acts as a soil remover in natural cleaners.
- Know Your Buzzwords. Organic is well-defined for food, but less so for home care products. The USDA’s National Organic Program, which regulates the national organic standards, does not currently regulate home care products.
- Credible Seals. Look for products that have one or more certifications or seals from credible sources such as Good Housekeeping, the Natural Products Association and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Natural Products Association (NPA) Natural Home Care standard: The NPA has developed a natural standard for home care products. This means that the NPA has reviewed the product’s ingredients and manufacturing processes, and determined that it meets the organization’s rigorous guidelines. This easily identifiable seal will help consumers discern which products meet the organization’s standard of natural. www.npainfo.org.
Green Good Housekeeping Seal: Introduced in 2009 by Good Housekeeping magazine and the Good Housekeeping Research Institute (GHRI), the seal helps consumers sift through the confusing clutter of “green” claims on hundreds of products on store shelves today. www.goodhousekeeping.com.
Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment program: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency created the Design for the Environment (DfE) Program to evaluate products that are made with safer chemistry methods. This logo on a label means that the review team has screened the manufacturing process for the product for potential environmental effects. www.epa.gov.