By Arthur Weissman, Ph.D, Green Seal President/CEO
As long as I’ve been at Green Seal, I’ve found it difficult to give people a satisfactory cocktail-party response when they ask where I work and what I do. I can say, of course, that Green Seal is an environmental certification organization or ecolabeling program, and (when I get blank stares) that we identify green products and services through our seal of approval. But that doesn’t really explain what we try to do or why – just how we do it. And I don’t think it does justice to Green Seal’s actual mission and purpose.
In truth, I think about Green Seal’s work in pretty grand terms. We’re really about helping to make the economy more sustainable in order to protect our world and everything living within it. To achieve this goal we focus on greening the outputs of the economy, its products and services. We consider the entire supply chain and production process, as well as the use and end-of-life phases, for each category of product or service. Hence, our standards, upon which certification is based, address many different aspects of the economy as it affects human health and the environment.
Products and services certified to Green Seal’s standards get to use the Green Seal mark and to market their certification broadly. Purchasers looking for greener products and services select those we certify, and the latter gain in market share and sales. Over time, as certified products and services expand in the marketplace and others strive for and attain certification, the entire category achieves a better environmental profile. This is the theory behind ecolabeling, and we have seen it realized in a number of market sectors.
Hence, when people refer to Green Seal as just a certifier – much less a labeler – of products, I feel we are being pigeonholed and even mis-characterized. It reminds me of the senior staffer at another environmental non-profit who informed me back in the 1990s that Green Seal’s job was just to certify products – his organization would take care of setting the standards. I don’t mean to belittle the job of certification, as it is a highly technical, professional, and significant enterprise in itself. But we go through all these pains for a purpose; we are not certifiers or even standard-setters alone.
We are, indeed, labeling, certifying, identifying, and setting standards for green products for a higher purpose. Immersed in the marketplace of products and services and working directly with businesses large and small, Green Seal is engaged hands-on in greening the economy. And by doing that, we hope to make it more protective of human health and the environment – our real mission.