Certifications More Important Than Ever

Certifications More Important Than Ever

Americans are concerned about the environment, says Suzanne Shelton in an op-ed for GreenBiz, even though other concerns – health and the economy – seem to be uppermost on people’s minds. 
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Sustainability is a Priority
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Shelton Group polled American respondents in May, and found that 43% were more concerned about climate change, 41% were more concerned about plastics in the ocean, and 39% were more concerned about deforestation and environmental issues than they were a year ago.
It is true that this represents a decline of a quarter to a third of respondents, but it is still significant that about 40% of people have sustainability concerns that have grown since the previous year.
Shelton explains that Shelton Group – of which she is president and CEO – has found for several years that Americans are increasingly trying to manage their environmental concerns through purchasing sustainable products.
The key question, then, is how they know which products to purchase.
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Finding Green Products
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Back in 2014, when Shelton Group started tracking this, the main answer that people gave was that they read the ingredients on the package.
Now in 2020, the top answer is still “I read the package,” but that answer has lost popularity. More people say that they do not trust their own ability to judge whether or not a product is green.
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Third-Party Certifications
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What has gained since that time is third-party certifications. More people trust third-party certifications | Learn more on Commonshare | as a reliable way to ascertain the green, sustainable status of a product | Learn more on Commonshare |: 87%, in fact, say that green certifications are important when purchasing a product.
Certifications also build trust | Learn more on Commonshare |. Both Energy Star and USDA Organic are named as the best third-party certifiers for establishing that a product is green. 69% of Americans mostly-to-completely trust Energy Star and 46% mostly-to-completely trust USDA Organic.
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Awareness is Linked to Trust
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Awareness is also linked to trust. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) indicates sustainable sourcing – as Shelton discloses, it is a Shelton Group client – 52% of Americans have heard of the label, and of that 52%, 90% say they trust it.
This means that brands should lead the way in promoting awareness of sustainability, and they should do so by getting third-party certifications. People trust them more than they trust brand messages from the companies.
“The moral of the story for brands is that you should use third-party certifications,” Shelton writes, “and once you’re using them, you should promote them and leverage their trustworthiness to communicate your green product story.”

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