Greenwashing has become prevalent with companies as more consumers embrace sustainability and seek products and brands that align with their values. As such, shoppers are feeling overwhelmed and skeptical of which brands to believe. Sustainability certifications through third-party programs build trust with conscious or purpose-driven consumers by showing us the proof behind businesses’ claims.

What is a sustainability certification?

Sustainability certifications are accountability agents that put transparency at the forefront. They require companies to meet a set of standards or guidelines in sustainability — environmental, social, economic, or all three. 

Since transparency is key, the certification process typically involves lots of questions about a business’ ins-and-outs. Top sustainability certifications typically require robust research, receipts to prove any claims, and from there, assessments are made. 

Most credible accreditations do require a fee to go through their verification process. However, over 7 in 10 consumers are willing to pay a premium for brands that support recycling, practice sustainability, provide full transparency, and/or are environmentally responsible. So, with all this, we say the return on investment is attainable. Moreover, to build brand trust and add an extra level of transparency, it’s worth giving some thought.

Are sustainability certifications worth it?

According to IBM, “when consumers choose a product with sustainability in mind, 84 percent say brand trust is important.” So if you want to build trust and credibility with your ideal customer, yes, sustainability certifications are worth it.

Environmental and social responsibility certifications make the buying process easier on conscious consumers. For example, suppose they see an eco-friendly award — like the Rainforest Alliance — on a product. In this case, they know it met standards around forest preservation, resilience against climate change, improving livelihoods, and more.

Conscious consumers can spend hours researching brands’ sustainability practices, and even after may still have some unanswered questions. But when all of this research is done for them from credible third-party accreditations, that time spent researching is reduced dramatically.

Which sustainability certification is right for your business?

For luxury fashion brands, we recommend The Butterfly Mark. An eco-certification program that “identifies luxury brands that meet the highest standards of verified innovation and environmental performance, offering transparency at points of sale and equipping consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions.”

For clean beauty, skincare, or cleaning products, EWG Verified is the way to go. With extensive research and data, The Environmental Working Group has a list of safe and not-so-safe ingredients. “When you see the EWG VERIFIED™ mark on a product, you can be sure it’s free from EWG’s chemicals of concern and meets our strictest standards for your health.”

For Hospitality and travel companies, look into getting certified by the Rainforest Alliance. Their site promises ecotourists, “By choosing Rainforest Alliance Certified hotels and tour operators in Latin America and the Caribbean, you’ll be visiting destinations that benefit local communities, ecosystems and wildlife.” 

For realtors, developers, and architects, we propose getting your workspaces and projects LEED certified. The U.S. Green Building Council provides this certification “for all building types and all building phases including new construction, interior fit outs, operations and maintenance and core and shell.”

B Corps is a great starting point for consumer goods like feminine products, vitamins, and service-based companies. It’s arguably the most recognizable accreditation since companies like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, and Klean Kanteen are members. Certified B Corporations are measured and evaluated based on “how your company’s operations and business model impact your workers, community, environment, and customers.”

Email me at jade@cadaconsult.com to learn more about what accreditation is best for your brand, and will speak to your ideal customer.

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