Eco icons reflect how products, places and services interact with and impact on the environment, animals and people. Creating a balanced eco-system isn’t something that falls outside of human society – we are a part of earth’s eco-system and our eco icons stretch to include positive practices that help conserve the planet, animals and natural habits as well as people, communities and society as a whole.
We are not eco experts, but consumers interested in contributing to making the world a better place by being more discerning about what we buy, where we go and how we live. We use information made publicly available about products, places and services and their impact on us and our environment to award our icons.
For more information about inclusion and accessibility, have a look at our Access icons.
Ergohacks’ Eco Icons are new for March 2016. We are in the process of implementing them across our site. All new content will include our eco icons.
Human beings were not made for a sedentary life.
Our bodies are made for movement and we award products, places and services that encourage and support an active lifestyle this icon.
Cost can be a big barrier for many. Although many ethical and organic companies are doing everything they can to provide quality, cost-effective products, many of the products we feature are not budget choices. Sometimes they are a premium price for a premium product, other times they actually work out at the same cost or cheaper due to their durability, but even then, they require a capital investment that many cannot afford.
We do our best to provide budget choices for those on a low income, first looking for healthy, ergonomic, eco-friendly options, but also extending our search to everyday, low cost items that offer good value for money.
This icon is awarded to products significantly lower priced than market value that are well-made and durable.
Cradle-to-cradle (C2C) design
Cradle to cradle is a holistic, encompassing way of making things that are ecological and ethical with zero waste of material and energy.
Make It Right has an excellent explanation here.
Certification by the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute
Cosmetics, beauty products, remedies and cleaning supplies that have not been tested on animals. Also awarded to animal products that were sourced humanely e.g. no live feather plucking for down.
Certification: Cruelty Free International for cosmetics and cleaning products (look for their Leaping Bunny logo on product packaging)
Surprised to see this icon on our eco list? We included it because we think that stress is a large obstacle to achieve better health and life quality.
Finding ways to relax, unwind, regain and maintain perspective and a positive attitude is something we value highly.
So we made an icon for it.
Some things are made to last. Investing in items that will withstand the test of time with regular use is often an ecological and financially sound choice. Products that are well made from highly durable materials receive the Ergohacks “High quality” stamp of approval.
This is one of our harder icons to earn because plastic and other non-biodegradable materials, including recycled/recyclable plastic isn’t always recycled and reused.
We give this icon to companies who go above and beyond to find better alternatives as much as possible where packaging is compostable/fully biodegradable almost exclusively.
Learn something new every day is a great motto.
An icon for everything that encourage the pursuit of knowledge and new skills as well as learning new values, beliefs and habits that help make the world a friendlier, fairer place.
Awarded to companies who employ energy saving practices and products, places and services that help consumers use less energy/access renewable energy.
For us fair and ethical trade means that everyone involved in the process receives a fair wage/price for their product or service and works in a safe and positive environment. Bonus points for companies who have proactive inclusive practices.
Fun, fun, fun
Fun is not a superfluous extra in life.
People are healthier, happier, more resilient, productive and efficient when they prioritize having fun as important.
We are more likely to stick to healthy habits that we enjoy. Fun creates sustainability, it’s a great means to a better end, but also a quite admirable end in itself. We award this icon to products, places and services with a positive message or that add more fun and enjoyment to life.
The game accessibility icon will be visible on games that have some accessibility features incorporated into the game’s design.
An icon awarded to products, places and services that do not make distinctions based on gender.
We review the products, their packaging and related marketing materials.
Awarded to places with gender-neutral design, including unisex toilets and facilities.
We award this icon to products, places and services that help protect wildlife and their habitats. Attractions dedicated to conservation, products that help people grow gardens and other green spaces into natural habits for local wildlife, farming that incorporates wildlife practices, like bee protection and safe, biodegradable products that end up in our water or soil, all make it onto our thumbs up list.
The Heritage icon is usually applied to attractions that promote or protect cultural, national, natural heritage as well as historic sites.
One of the big drawbacks of buying without physically evaluating something before purchase (remember the days of the changing cubicle?) is that the little things are not conveyed in images, maps and videos. That beautiful bag that clinks with each step, the dress with uncomfortable scratchy seams, the organic fair trade lotion whose lavender scent can be smelled a mile away, the annoying in-app pop-ups that appear even after you paid quite a bit an app.
We award the low annoyance icon to products, items and services that have none of the above. Not everything can be controlled – in a tranquil camping site other campers can be noisy at 2 a.m., but where annoyance isn’t down to the luck of the draw, we do our best to give products that are quiet, tranquil, pleasant and have options to mute the soundtrack this lovely icon.
This icon is for products that can be mainly recycled after use or in the case of consumables, products that are biodegradable and naturally work their way back into our eco-system.
Recycling is great and when we purchase products made from recycled materials, we make it even better.
This icon is awarded to products made from some recycled material – if we know how much we will publish the percentage.
Awarded to companies that employ practices that minimize waste generation and use reduced/recycled/recyclable packaging as well as products that help consumers reduce their waste generation. Other examples of waste minimization are consumables sold in larger containers and durable products that will not require regular replacing and have reusable components.
Certification: TCO Certified
Our organic icon is reserved for products certified as organic.
Awarded to products shipped in packaging that can be recycled, including recyclable plastics.
This icon is awarded to products, places and services that eliminate or significantly reduce exposure to hazardous materials, endocrine disruptors and other substances we prefer to avoid. It isn’t enough for a product to limit one particular substance, like “BPA-free” labels – we are interested in products that we can trust to be safe for us and our environment.
We also exclude products that contain potentially harmful substances or endocrine disruptors like phtalates, parabens, BPA, BPS or close derivatives, PCBs, oxybenzone, chlorine, bromine, synthetic or strong fragrances or products chemically treated with substances that reduce air quality. Products also have to be free from heavy metals (cadmium, mercury, lead and hexavalent chromium) and halogenated flame retardants.
Sustainable sourcing promotes responsible management of the resources we have – to make use of renewable resources that are actively renewed and responsible use of non-renewable resources.
Certification: FSC Certification for Forestry
Vegan products, places and services exclude as far as possible all forms of animal exploitation, including use of all animal products including eggs, dairy, honey, leather, lactose, silk and gelatin.
Certification: Vegan Society’s Vegan Trademark
Vegetarians do not eat any products that is a by-product of animal slaughter. We award the vegetarian icon to foods that do not contain red meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish, bone stock, animal fats, gelatine or other products obtained as a result of animal slaughter. May contain dairy and free range/organic eggs – look for the egg-free, dairy-free signs if either is a problem.
Conserving water minimizes the impact of water shortages on communities and wildlife that lives in rivers and wetlands.
Saving water also reduces energy use (it takes a lot of power to clean water at sewage plants and heating water we then waste also wastes energy) and the emission of green house gasses.
We award this icon to companies who employ water saving techniques as well as products and services that could reduce water waste.
About our eco icons
We have developed our eco icons based on the characteristics that we look for in products and generally use information publicly available to determine whether a specific product is worth each icon it receives. We do not carry out inspections, independent testing and usually have no insider knowledge or access.
Our icons do not represent certification. Some small companies and self-employed makers do not have the resources to become certified, but do their best to make their products fairly and source their materials sustainably. We take their word for it. We do list certifications that has been attained (that we are aware of) below our icons.
Our icons is proactive and positive and if an icon has not been awarded, it doesn’t mean a company has not taken those measures, but that they have not made the information publicly available / we didn’t find their information. We are happy to amend our findings for all companies and business who would like to supply us with their eco product information. Do get in touch with us.
If you have an idea for an eco icon you think we have missed, let us know.
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