How do you know what you're buying?
...you read the label of course!
Lucy Siegle wrote this interesting piece on the plethora of eco-labels in Observer on Sunday. It is very interesting which labels have resonated with the public and which have fallen by the wayside.
In the report on Greenwashing I mentioned recently, the authors chided 57% of 'green' products they reviewed for only reporting a limited number of green benefits (eg recycled content) and not covering the whole impact. However, if you look at the labels that have caught the public's attention (soil association organic accreditation, FSC for timber and the energy ratings on white goods), they do just that. On the other hand, the more comprehensive labels like the EU 'daisy' have pretty much died a death.
In other words, the public wants simple, clear guidance on their products rather than full life cycle assessment style studies. The downside is that the product's designers and manufacturers could hide big environmental impacts behind a lesser benefit.
I can understand the desir for simplicity and clarity, but we have to be very careful we don't get the wool pulled over our eyes.