In today’s climate landscape, impact-led businesses are making waves in the fight for our planet by incorporating sustainability as a core mission –and, luckily, more and more consumers are supporting this shift. 73% of consumers want to change their consumption habits to reduce environmental impact (Nielson).

One of the best ways to prove your business is committed to a healthier planet and a more ethical future is with environmental certifications. These seals of approval and commitments to environmental change are not just badges of honor; they’re powerful tools that can drive your business towards a more sustainable, eco-friendly, and socially responsible path.

To help you understand why Environmental Certifications are a big deal for any organization (and consumer!), we’ll shed light on what they are, why impact-led businesses seek them out, and the 15 Environmental Certifications you need to know about (& why they matter). Let’s dive in!


What is an Environmental Certification?

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Environmental certifications are credentials (or a seal) that confirm an organization or company meets specific environmental performance and sustainability standards or criteria. The certification informs consumers, businesses, and other stakeholders that you are committed to responsible environmental practices.

64% of consumers research label claims when making buying decisions (NEXT), so there is no better time to consider Environmental Certifications for your business!

Certifications cover a range of criteria, including organic products, eco-friendly buildings, sustainability practices with supply chains or operations, carbon offsets, Fair Trade, environmental management systems, and more. So, no matter what type of business you have, there is probably an aligned Environmental Certification for you!


Why Impact-led Businesses Seek Out Environmental Certifications

There are quite a few reasons impact-led businesses might pursue environmental certifications, and we’ve highlighted some of the key ones below. 

  • Builds Credibility and Trust – 85% of consumers trust independent, third-party certification organizations to verify product claims (NSF). Certifications give businesses a credible way to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and responsible environmental practices.
  • Provides A Competitive Advantage – From 2016 to 2021, a 71% rise in global online searches for sustainable goods (WWF) indicates that consumers increasingly choose products and services that align with their values. Businesses that can prove their environmental commitment through certification are well-positioned to meet this growing market demand.
  • Improves Brand Awareness and Reputation – With more customers preferring companies committed to environmental responsibility, Environmental Certifications can potentially increase customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Reduces Environmental Impact – This might seem obvious, but Environmental Certifications encourage businesses to implement policies, practices, and processes that reduce long-term environmental risks. You are more likely to follow through when your certifications depend on your actions.
  • Opens Up Access to New Markets, Customers, and Investors – Certifications can open up many new business opportunities, including working with markets or customers requiring suppliers and partners to hold specific environmental certifications. It also makes your business more attractive to socially responsible investors looking to support companies with a strong commitment to environmental sustainability.
  • Ensures Long-Term Viability – Businesses can help protect themselves against future environmental risks and challenges by prioritizing sustainability and demonstrating responsible environmental practices.


What Environmental Certifications are out there?

We’ve identified 15 significant Environmental Certifications in the US and globally. There are many more environmentally and socially responsible certifications out there, but these particular certifications are a great starting point.

1. Rainforest Alliance Certified

The Rainforest Alliance Certification (RAC) is one of the oldest and most globally recognized sustainability certifications and promotes environmental conservation and sustainable farming practices. Since 1992 (although officially founded in 1986), the RAC created a seal certifying that products are sourced from farms and forests that meet certain environmental, social, and economic criteria, including protecting ecosystems, conserving biodiversity, promoting fair labor practices, and supporting local communities. When you see the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal on a product, it signifies that the product has been produced in a manner that respects the environment and the well-being of people, promoting responsible and sustainable supply chains.


2. Leaping Bunny Certification

In 1996, eight national animal protection groups joined to form a comprehensive standard and an internationally recognized certification for cruelty-free cosmetics, personal care, and household products. The Leaping Bunny Certification is a global gold standard for businesses that comply with the criteria, making shopping for animal-friendly products more accessible. The certification program connects compassionate consumers to over 2,300 U.S. and Canadian-based companies that have pledged  “to end animal testing at all stages of product development in addition to recommitting to the program annually and being open to third-party audits.”


3. Offset Climate Certified®️

According to their website, Offset Climate Certified®️ takes a third-party approach to lowering “global CO2e emissions, sustaining communities and cultures, and regenerating biodiversity through their portfolio of verified carbon reduction products.” Using a subscription-based model, Offset provides a convenient way to understand your small business’ climate impact through “transparent CO2e emissions measurement and reductions.” Using a framework built on measurement, offsetting, reduction, and engagement, Offset uses a “concierge approach” to help subscribers make “ measured and verified CO2e reductions to help slow and reverse climate change.”


4. Fair Trade Certified™

Fair Trade Certified™ is an award-winning, rigorous, and globally recognized sustainable certification that improves livelihoods, protects the environment, and builds resilient, transparent supply chains. A Fair Trade Certified label reflects businesses that value safe working conditions, participate in environmental protection, contribute to sustainable livelihoods, and are committed to community development funds. According to their website, the Fair Trade Certified label ensures certified business operations meet rigorous social, environmental, and economic standards.


5. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

The U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the most well-known and prolific green building rating and certification system in the U.S. According to their websites, they “provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings, which offer environmental, social and governance benefits.”

LEED-certified buildings are often designed and built using strategies that improve performance in energy efficiency, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reductions, improved indoor air quality, and stewardship of resources. 

Whether a company is new to sustainability and LEED or already working on green building and LEED projects, this certification is for “all building types and all building phases including new construction, interior fit-outs, operations and maintenance, and core and shell.”


6. Climate Neutral Certified

Climate change is here, and Climate Neutral is doing something about it with a globally recognized standard for carbon accountability. The Climate Neutral Certified label verifies a company’s commitment to measuring, reducing, and offsetting its carbon footprint. Climate Neutral’s mission is to “eliminate carbon emissions by making climate neutrality a priority for businesses and consumers.” Certification requires businesses to calculate their greenhouse gas emissions, minimize their carbon footprint, and purchase carbon credits to offset any remaining emissions.


7. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is globally recognized as the leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibers. They set comprehensive environmental and social criteria for the entire textile supply chain, from harvesting raw materials to labeling the final product. GOTS ensures that textiles are produced in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible manner, with requirements for organic farming, safe and sustainable processing, and fair labor practices. By requiring compliance with social and environmental criteria for certification, GOTS allows consumers to support a more sustainable and transparent textile industry.


8. Living Wage Certified (UK)

The Living Wage Foundation created a movement advocating for everyone to “earn a wage that meets their everyday needs.” Through the Living Wage certification, businesses voluntarily take a stand to ensure their employees can earn a wage that is enough to live on. Currently, over 13,000 UK businesses have committed to paying their employees a Living Wage, and according to their website:

  • 94% of businesses benefitted from accreditation
  • 87% reported it improved the reputation of their business
  • 60% said it increased the retention rates of employees


9. Upcycled Certified

According to Project Drawdown, preventing food waste is the single most effective solution to prevent global warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius. Upcycled Food Association aims to reduce food waste by growing the upcycled economy with a long-term vision of guiding the food system towards increased economic and environmental sustainability. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, roughly 30% of food produced globally is lost or goes to waste (FOA). Upcycled Certified works to prevent this problem by creating new, high-quality products from surplus food. Launches in 2021, The Upcycled Certified® Program is the world’s first third-party certification program for upcycled food ingredients and products, empowering consumers to reduce food waste and participate in the #1 solution to mitigate the climate crisis whenever they purchase an Upcycled Certified® product.


10. 1% for the Planet

The 1% for the Planet model allows businesses to achieve their environmental commitments by directly giving 1% of their annual sales to vetted environmental partners. 1% has an extensive network list with over 5,500 business members in 60+ countries (Forbes) and offers virtual spaces and in-person events to connect, share, and leverage the power of the 1% logo to communicate your commitment to the environment. There are three types of memberships for businesses: product line level, brand level, and full company level. They also offer individual memberships for those wanting to join without a business connection. Maintaining certification requires members to submit donation receipts every year in addition to annual membership dues.


11. CCOF-Certified

California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) is a nonprofit organization that envisions a world where organic is the norm. CCOF verifies that farmers and food producers meet the organic standards established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and ensures that their products are grown and processed in accordance with organic principles. CCOF’s goal is to “advance organic agriculture for a healthy world through organic certification, education, advocacy, and promotion,” and they offer certification for organic farming practices, organic handling and processing, and organic livestock production. CCOF’s certification enables consumers to make informed choices about organic products while supporting sustainable and environmentally friendly agricultural practices.


12. Certified B Corp

Certified B Corporations, or B Corps, are businesses that have met rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. They are certified by B Lab, a nonprofit network transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet. Certified B Corps commit to a “triple-bottom-line” approach, meaning they consider their profits in addition to their social and environmental responsibilities –meaning they work towards balancing purpose and profit and use their commercial success as a force for good. B Corps are legally required to consider their impact on society and the environment, ensuring that their business decisions align with their mission to create a more sustainable and equitable world.


13. FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council)

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is the “leader in sustainable forest management, operating the world’s most rigorous and trusted forest certification system.” The FSC is committed to protecting all forests and building a world where everyone recognizes the true value of forests. They do this through a certification and licensing solution available for any size or type of business.  Maybe you’ve seen or have bought numerous FSC-certified products over the years because, according to GlobalScan Research, 56% of people Recognize the FSC label. 77% of these consumers prefer FSC-certified over non-certified products. Businesses can join the 50,000+  FSC certificate holders and gain access to sustainable sourcing solutions that support responsible forestry.


14. Regenerative Organic Certified® (ROC)

Established in 2017, Regenerative Organic Certified® (ROC) is a comprehensive certification program focusing on regenerative agriculture practices, organic farming, and ethical animal welfare. This certification helps farms and products meet the highest standards in the world to create a healthy food system that respects land and animals, empowers people, and restores communities and ecosystems through regenerative organic farming. By adopting regenerative organic practices on more farms worldwide, they’re working to create long-term solutions to some of the biggest issues we’re facing, including the climate crisis, factory farming, and fractured rural economies. ROC envisions a “world free of poisonous chemicals, factory farming, exploitation and income inequality, soil degradation, habitat destruction, pollution, short-term thinking, corporate bullies, greenwashing, and fake food.”


15. Cradle to Cradle®

The Cradle to Cradle® Certification promotes a “circular economy” by ensuring products are designed and manufactured to be recycled, repurposed, or safely returned to the environment at the end of their life cycle. Their mission is to power “the shift to a circular economy by setting the global standard for materials, products, and systems that positively impact people and planet.” The Cradle to Cradle® Certification signifies that a product is made with eco-friendly materials, can be effectively recycled or composted, and adheres to high sustainability standards –with an overall goal to minimize environmental impact while promoting responsible design and production.

Certification requires evaluating products for their health, reutilization, renewable energy, carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness. More than 34,000 products have been Cradle to Cradle Certified® across a variety of categories, including building materials, interior finishes, furniture and household products, automotive, consumer electronics, textiles and apparel, cosmetics and personal care, cleaning products, paper, packaging, and polymers.


The Importance of Being Mindful Of Who You Work With And What You Purchase

It’s important to remember specific criteria and standards for each type of environmental certification can vary widely, and the certification process typically involves a comprehensive assessment and, in many cases, ongoing monitoring and verification to ensure continued compliance. 

Environmental Certifications promote responsible environmental practices, transparency, and consumer confidence in environmentally friendly products, services, and organizations. 

Have we missed an environmental certification from the list? Let us know which one we should add to the blog in the comments below.