Below you will find an alphabetized list of common consumer products, under which there is a brief introduction of ethical issues to consider when buying that product. Apologies that the list is currently sparse: it is an ongoing effort. Following each weekly blog post, this page will be updated with condensed information the product that was discussed.
EGGS: When it comes to egg labels, there are a lot that mean very little and a few that convey a lot. Farm fresh, all natural, no hormones and no antibiotics egg labels are all meaningless. While Omega-3 eggs and vegetarian fed eggs may be healthier for you, they are not a more ethical choice according to any of the other three values that you might wish to consider (animal welfare, labour rights, and the environment). If you value animal welfare, slightly better choices include cage-free, free-run, and free-range. These labels are not your best option because they are not independently verifiable, but they are better than no label at all. Finally, Canadian certified organic eggs are a strong choice for animal welfare. There may be a tradeoff between animal welfare and environmental outcomes, as well as working conditions, as cage-free systems in some cases can worsen each of these. This claim remains contested and probably depends on the specific conditions of different farming systems, unfortunately. For an environmentally friendly option, try the Land Food People Foundation’s certified local sustainable label. One good choice is PC Organics Free-Run Eggs, produced in Canada. Although the free-run label itself isn’t independently verifiable, the Canada organic label assures animal welfare standards.
PAPER: Experts generally agree that the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification scheme is the ecolabel with the most stringent standards and most robust certification procedures. So, check for an FSC label. There are 3 different FSC labels you might come across: FSC 100%, FSC MIX, and FSC Recycled. These are all responsible choices, but the FSC MIX and FSC Recycled labels are an even better choice because they include recycled materials. By buying FSC-certified, you can ensure that your paper has been extracted from forests that are managed in a socially and environmentally responsible way (i.e. will not contribute to deforestation). Remember, though, that paper is still energy-intensive to produce. Consider using less paper, where possible, and always recycle. Going paperless, where you can, is a good way to reduce your environmental footprint. Check out these sources for tips on going paperless at home and in the office.