Go Go Logo
Go to any supermarket and you’ll be overwhelmed by logos – and not all of them are easily identified, and how are we supposed to remember the meaning of each anyhow when there are so many!?  Well, they’ve proliferated because of the increased income that can be gained by ‘greenwashing’ products, because of the trend of consumers to try and make environmentally friendly decisions. There are a few official logos which have a lot of testing and regulation behind them, and they’re the ones you need to look out for.

OK Compost – This logo can only be applied to products of which 90% of the mass will convert to Carbon Dioxide and H2O within 6 months in an industrial biodegrading facility.

Australian Certified Organic – This is the logo which means the product has been checked and comes up to national & international organic standards. It's referred to fondly as 'the bud' apparently. I would have gone with 'snake and snail holding a tree' to be honest.

Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA) – this is a not-for-profit organisation which rates products on their environmental impact over their entire life cycle (from production to recyclability or landfill). However, keep in mind that the products under GECA are only comparatively environmental. GECA certification doesn’t automatically mean the products are actively ‘friendly’ to the environment, rather that the brand that has applied for certification is comparatively ‘greener’ than others. So while a product may still use petroleum based materials, if it uses less waste water or chemicals in production it may be GECA approved.
The CCF Bunny – the bunny logo is used by producers who have signed an official declaration with Choose Cruelty Free (CCF)  Their website says “CCF will not accredit a manufacturer if any of its products contain any ingredients:
  • Derived from an animal killed specifically for the extraction of that ingredient;
  • Forcibly extracted from a live animal in a manner that occasioned pain or discomfort;
  • Derived from any wildlife;
  • That are by-products of the fur industry; or
  • That are slaughterhouse by-products of a commercially significant value.
Don’t you love that last one? I think it should be the catchphrase of our neoliberal society ‘Of A Commercially Significant Value’...pshaw. The words give me goosebumps.

Fair Trade -Fair trade guarantees the smallholder suppliers a larger more fair cut of the profits from their produce. ecodirectory.com.au says " Fair trade is part of a sustainable future because it helps people escape poverty, which can force them to damage the environment to survive. Fair trade can be extended to other fields but is typically foodstuffs such as cocao, coffee, tea, etc, arts and crafts."

False claims?
If there’s something a bit vague on the packaging of the item you’re purchasing, it’s probably ‘greenwashing’. Choice.com.au suggests that if the packaging  says something like ‘chemical-free’ or
"100% natural based actives" Or "We take our environment seriously" with no supporting evidence, it’s probably just a way of greenwashing the product so you’ll feel good about buying it, even though it has little or no environmentally friendly elements. Similarly,  if the product says it has reduced materials waste but doesn’t give a percentage of cutdown, be wary.

Holy singing salmon, Sassafrass, what the heck CAN I buy?
I wanted to highlight how awesome Organic Care shampoo and conditioner is–I’ve been using it for a while – its packaging is made from biopolymers from plants rather than oil (they’re available in Priceline) - http://www.naturesorganics.com.au/organic-care
INGEO does their packaging, and also creates biodegradable packaging, “
Unfortunately today, most compostable food waste around the world is literally ‘contaminated’ with petroleum based plastics – the presence of which condemn food waste to landfill, rather than more environmentally beneficial composting.” You can read more about their products and how they are made and with what ingredients here - http://www.natureworksllc.com/~/media/News%20and%20Events/NatureWorks_TheIngeoJourney_pdf.ashx
Keep in mind that this is still packaging and use frugally.

For more information on what to buy where, check out eco-directory.com.au, which as well as having a large informational proportion with articles etcetera, also has lists by category of products.
You can also check out Choice.com.au, which is a brilliant website that compares consumer goods and brings to light problems with products, or potential health issues relating to new technologies, for example nano-technologies in sunscreens. It’s a good way to check up on what’s happening in the consumable world (which is pretty much all of it these days, isn’t it?), and to get smart about what you’re purchasing.
Even better for our egos, check out our Where to Buy page specially created for local Brisbane shoppers.
Further Reading:
·         http://www.geca.org.au