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EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
Sea Threads was inspired by community beach cleanups. Sea Threads

Pound-for-pound, Sea Threads is making a difference for our ocean ー literally. The new clothing venture is the first to make clothing from 100% Certified Ocean Plastic, with each performance shirt made from one pound of plastics pulled out of our ocean.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A 2021 study estimated that shark and ray populations are down 70 percent in the last 50 years, mainly due to overfishing. Mile Ribeiro / Pexels

Last week, on World Oceans Day, the U.S. Senate took two major legislative steps to support our oceans for the future: banning the commercial shark fin trade in the U.S. and addressing forced labor and Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

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tzahiV / iStock / Getty Images

The COVID-19 Delta variant has left businesses and schools across the country backpedaling from their goals for more integrated, in-person participation.

In many areas, virtual learning and remote work are becoming the norm once again, and often, this comes with a significant increase in residential energy consumption. For those concerned about increased electric bills and a greater carbon footprint, however, researchers say solar energy could prove effective in offsetting the costs of working and learning from home.

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UQ study lead Francisca Ribeiro inspects oysters. The study of five different seafoods revealed plastic in every sample. University of Queensland

A new study of five different kinds of seafood revealed traces of plastic in every sample tested.

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The hidden cost of fishing: Marine debris can entangle and even kill marine wildlife. For air-breathing animals like this sea turtle, discarded fishing gear, known as "ghost gear," is a constant threat that can entangle them and cause them to drown. NOAA PIFSC

By Reynard Loki

There is one main U.S. law that governs the management of marine fisheries in federal waters: The Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). Originally intended to address the concern over foreign fisheries operating near U.S. waters, the MSA, which was passed in 1976, extended the nation's exclusive fisheries zone from 12 to 200 nautical miles from the coastline. The law was amended in 1996 and 2007 to prevent overfishing, rebuild overfished stocks, establish annual catch limits, put accountability measures in place, strengthen the use of science through peer review, and ensure the overall sustainability of the fishing industry.

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USDA

Buying “green" can be confusing! Many products claim to be “natural," “eco-friendly" and “biodegradable." But what in the world does that mean? Unfortunately, because there's no standardized definition for any of these words, they're actually meaningless. In fact, many companies intentionally use vague words like these to market their products as if they're better for you and the environment than they actually are.

Here are 13 of the most reliable eco-labels in the market. What makes them so good? They've been defined by independent institutions or nonprofit organizations that have set meaningful criteria that companies must prove they've met in order to use the eco-label in question. When you shop for anything from produce to mattresses, look for these “third party" certifications to back up the claims a company makes regarding the environmental and human health benefits of their products.

1. Organic

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) collaborated with scientists, consumer groups, environmentalists and the agriculture industry to set standards for the meaning of the word "organic." Products labeled "100 percent organic" must contain only organically produced ingredients. Products labeled "organic" must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. Products meeting either set of requirements may display the USDA Organic seal on their packaging. Processed products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients may use the phrase "made with organic ingredients," but may not use the organic seal. Processed products that contain less than 70 percent organic ingredients may not use the term organic other than to identify the specific ingredients that are organically produced in the ingredients statement. Overall, when it comes to food, the organic label, while not perfect, is the best indicator that no or minimal pesticides, hormones and antibiotics were used for growing and processing.

2. Green Seal

For more than 25 years, this nonprofit, science-based organization has developed certification standards to minimize the environmental and health impacts related to cleaning products, coffee, paint, windows, even sticky notes. To earn the Green Seal, a product must meet rigorous evaluation and testing objectives, as must the facility where it is manufactured.

3. SCS (Scientific Certification Systems)

SCS certifies environmental claims related to recycled content, certified organic ingredients, water efficiency and sustainable forestry. SCS certifications meet international environmental labeling standards as well as guidelines issued by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for responsible environmental marketing.

4. Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

FSC sets standards to ensure that forests are being managed in an environmentally responsible way, and that products like timber, paper and furniture are made sustainably.

5. LEED

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) label represents a green building rating system for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. A program of the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

6. ENERGY STAR

This label, overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indicates homes and buildings, plus appliances, computers, lightbulbs, copiers, printers, furnaces and many other products that meet strict energy-efficiency guidelines that help save energy and money and protect the environment.

7. Veriflora

Developed by SCS (see above), this label is awarded to flower growers who do not use "extremely hazardous" or "highly hazardous" agrochemicals. The Veriflora label also indicates that growers are converting to organic and sustainable crop production practices. The standard contains extensive water and ecosystem protection measures to ensure that farmers are not damaging surrounding wildlife or habitats. In addition, it requires growers to provide a fair, equitable and safe workplace for their farmers.

8. Fair Trade Certified

This label demonstrates that the farmers and workers behind Fair Trade goods were paid fair wages and have opportunities for better health care, housing and education. The Fair Trade label is attached to coffee, chocolate, cocoa, tea, fruit, rice, sugar, spices and a variety of clothing and crafts produced in developing countries.

9. Certified Humane Raised and Handled

This label provides independent verification that the care and handling of livestock and poultry on farms enrolled in the program meet high-quality, humane animal care standards. These include access to clean and sufficient food and water; sufficient protection from inclement weather; and enough space to move about naturally.

10. Leaping Bunny

Leaping Bunny is the certification program of the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics. The mark certifies that companies have not tested their products on animals during any stage of development. The company's ingredient suppliers make the same pledge. Look for the Leaping Bunny label on cosmetics and personal care, household and cleaning products.

11. Marine Stewardship Council

The Council's eco-label indicates seafood that comes from certified sustainable and well-managed fisheries. Look for it on fish and shellfish.

12. Demeter

This label represents the Demeter Farm Standard, which indicates that a farm is organically farmed, GMO-free and also operated to promote soil fertility, animal welfare, conserve water, protect biodiversity and managed to follow the cycles of nature. Look for it on wine, tea, juice, pasta, sauces and many other foods.

13. NON-GMO Project Verified

This label indicates that products bearing it have been produced according to the best available practices for avoiding genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). It does not promise that a product is "GMO free" because there is always some risk that seeds, crops, ingredients and products have been exposed to GMOs somewhere along their growing or production cycle. It does, however, create a powerful incentive to seed breeders, farmers, processors and manufacturers to adopt practices that reduce use of GMOs while giving consumers a way to limit their exposure.

Two vaquitas surfacing for air in the Sea of Cortez. NOAA

By Elizabeth Claire Alberts

The Mexican government will no longer protect the habitat of the critically endangered vaquita in the Upper Gulf of California, but has opened the area up to fishing, according to a news report.
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Researchers in Greenland found alarming amounts of dissolved mercury in glaciers.

By Isabela Martel

When British environmental geochemist Jon Hawkings arrived in Greenland for the first time in 2012, he was impressed.

"It's mind-blowing: You look onto the horizon and it's just ice and it goes on for 150, 200 kilometers at least."

He went to the Arctic with a group of international scientists. Their goal was to investigate the relationship between nutrients entering coastal ecosystems from glacial meltwater. But the group's research took an unexpected turn.

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"Once engineered genes are introduced into the wild salmon gene pool, it cannot be undone," said Mike Conroy, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations. Julia Manzerova / flickr / cc

By Andrea Germanos

Food safety campaigners on Thursday welcomed a federal court's finding that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) violated U.S. law in its approval of genetically engineered salmon.

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Waste pickers like this woman in India are disproportionately exposed to the toxins from plastic waste. Caisii Mao / NurPhoto via Getty Images

Plastic pollution isn't just a threat to non-human life like turtles and whales. It's also a major environmental justice problem.

That's the conclusion of a new report released Tuesday from the UN Environment Program and ocean justice non-profit Azul, titled Neglected: Environmental Justice Impacts of Plastic Pollution.

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A surgical mask floats in the ocean. Eloi_Omella / Getty Images

By David Shiffman

As we enter what's hopefully the home stretch of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's time to take stock of how it affected every aspect of our world, to consider what happened, what could be done different to avoid those problems in the future, and what's next.

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Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Protein powders aren't just for bodybuilders—the human body needs protein to build muscle and perform basic metabolic functions, and many adults don't consume enough. If you eat a vegan diet, you may be searching for the best plant-based protein powder available.

Plant protein supplements are dried, powdered forms of protein that come from a variety of sources. They are often made from soy, rice, hemp, and peas, where other protein powders are derived from eggs or milk protein, such as whey or casein. Choosing the best plant-based protein powder for you depends on your lifestyle, dietary preferences, and taste buds. Here are our favorite vegan protein powder options.

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This picture taken on February 11, 2021 shows a view of Dragon's blood (Dracaena cinnabari) trees at the top of Dixam mountain in the Yemeni Island of Socotra, a site of global importance for biodiversity conservation, located in the northwestern Indian Ocean some 200 kilometers south of the Yemeni mainland. AFP / Getty Images

What Is Biodiversity?

Polar bears, honeybees, mango trees and coral reefs are all examples of the countless animal and insect species, plant life and ecosystems that comprise the planet's vast biodiversity. Every living organism has a role to play in an intricate web of connectedness, no matter the size, and without them, there would be no life on Earth. Removing just one from the chain can send significant ripple effects throughout the system, even if those effects aren't immediately felt. More crucially, every species lost increases the extinction risk to another connected species.

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EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
Sea Threads was inspired by community beach cleanups. Sea Threads

Pound-for-pound, Sea Threads is making a difference for our ocean ー literally. The new clothing venture is the first to make clothing from 100% Certified Ocean Plastic, with each performance shirt made from one pound of plastics pulled out of our ocean.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A 2021 study estimated that shark and ray populations are down 70 percent in the last 50 years, mainly due to overfishing. Mile Ribeiro / Pexels

Last week, on World Oceans Day, the U.S. Senate took two major legislative steps to support our oceans for the future: banning the commercial shark fin trade in the U.S. and addressing forced labor and Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Read More Show Less
tzahiV / iStock / Getty Images

The COVID-19 Delta variant has left businesses and schools across the country backpedaling from their goals for more integrated, in-person participation.

In many areas, virtual learning and remote work are becoming the norm once again, and often, this comes with a significant increase in residential energy consumption. For those concerned about increased electric bills and a greater carbon footprint, however, researchers say solar energy could prove effective in offsetting the costs of working and learning from home.

Read More Show Less
UQ study lead Francisca Ribeiro inspects oysters. The study of five different seafoods revealed plastic in every sample. University of Queensland

A new study of five different kinds of seafood revealed traces of plastic in every sample tested.

Read More Show Less
Trending
The hidden cost of fishing: Marine debris can entangle and even kill marine wildlife. For air-breathing animals like this sea turtle, discarded fishing gear, known as "ghost gear," is a constant threat that can entangle them and cause them to drown. NOAA PIFSC

By Reynard Loki

There is one main U.S. law that governs the management of marine fisheries in federal waters: The Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). Originally intended to address the concern over foreign fisheries operating near U.S. waters, the MSA, which was passed in 1976, extended the nation's exclusive fisheries zone from 12 to 200 nautical miles from the coastline. The law was amended in 1996 and 2007 to prevent overfishing, rebuild overfished stocks, establish annual catch limits, put accountability measures in place, strengthen the use of science through peer review, and ensure the overall sustainability of the fishing industry.

Read More Show Less