One of Amazon’s recent approaches to sustainability includes the Climate Pledge Friendly initiative, which Amazon launched in 2020. In April of this year, Amazon announced it added four more certifications to the endeavor and currently counts more than 75,000 Climate Pledge Friendly-labeled products — the program initially started with approximately 25,000 products in September 2020. You’ll see the label affixed to products throughout Amazon’s listings, indicating that the product boasts at least one eco-friendly stamp of approval, designed to “help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products,” Amazon says.
The Climate Pledge Friendly label is an arm of Amazon’s larger endeavor, the eponymous The Climate Pledge — the mega-retailer co-founded it in 2019 alongside Global Optimism, an advisory organization that advocates for reducing carbon emissions. Experts we consulted for a deeper dive into The Climate Pledge itself noted that the pledge is ambitious, emphasizing that Amazon still has plenty of work to do to address the extent of its environmental impact. It’s also one of the most notable actions the company has taken around climate change in recent years. The pledge, which resonates outside of Amazon, is a commitment to becoming “net zero carbon” by 2040 and counts brands like Visa, Verizon, Mercedes-Benz and Best Buy as signatories.
What does it ultimately mean? Amazon says it plans to eliminate carbon emissions as much as possible and offset any remaining carbon emissions to reach its goal. Currently, the pledge counts 108 signatories in all — there’s no fee to join and signing up entails three commitments: regular reporting of greenhouse gas emissions, carbon elimination (including using renewable energy) and offsetting any remaining emissions.
Simply put: Decreasing carbon emissions, or minimizing any given carbon footprint, reduces the amount of greenhouse gases warming the planet. In signing the pledge, then, Amazon and cohorts commit to becoming net zero carbon, tangentially promising they’ll measure, reduce and offset any carbon emissions.
During the upcoming Prime Day 2021 sales event — slated to run from June 21 to June 22 — you’re likely to come across the label hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Here’s what the Climate Pledge Friendly label actually means, what it doesn’t meant and how it should inform your shopping.
What does ‘Climate Pledge Friendly’ mean?
The Climate Pledge Friendly label officially launched in 2020 and includes products certified through one (or more) approved sustainability agencies. These third-party certifications include the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), for example, which evaluates the environmental and social impacts of the manufacturing of materials, and Carbon Trust’s Reducing CO2 label, which means a brand plans to reduce its production footprint year after year.
Amazon doesn’t charge a fee for products to participate in the Climate Pledge Friendly program. To earn the label, certifying bodies like the aforementioned GOTS share qualifications with Amazon about a given brand, a company spokesperson confirmed.
Amazon chose certifications that were reputable, transparent and focused on conserving the natural world, according to Adam Werbach, the global lead for sustainable shopping at Amazon. To figure out what certifications would be part of the program, Amazon enlisted the help of Anthesis, which advises brands on sustainability, to review and assess each certification, Werbach explained. One of those is Amazon’s own Compact by Design — Amazon told us it offers to brands free of charge — which highlights products that remove excess air or water in their design, making them more efficient to ship since they require less packaging, Werbach said.
Nives Dolšak, a professor of marine and environmental affairs at the University of Washington, believes the label could be made more prominent in relation to other categories on Amazon’s navigation menu, alongside Best Sellers or Customer Service, so the program is more easily visible to shoppers. Amazon didn’t confirm this was on its priority list right now, and noted that it was “continuing to enhance the user experience.”
How to shop for Climate Pledge Friendly products
As mentioned above, you’ll see the green Climate Pledge Friendly label when you search for products throughout the site. The label denotes that the product is eco-friendly in some way — whether that’s through its packaging or production.
A search for “cleaning supplies” on Amazon, for example, will bring up some Climate Pledge Friendly products on the first page, including a Mrs. Meyer’s multi-surface cleaner. You’ll see the standard price, average star rating and Prime availability — the green logo will also appear when you scroll down, mentioning what certification it qualifies under.
When you click through for a particular product’s page, you’ll see the label once again. If you click on it this time, Amazon briefly explains what the certification is for.
When you shop through Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly storefront, thousands of options are grouped by category: beauty, electronics, health and household and so on. In total, Amazon counts 24 certifications as a part of the program. To shop all Climate Pledge Friendly products, you can find the full collection of certified items here.
Six of them say their selection is coming soon, including Carbon Neutral by Carbon Trust, Carbon Neutral Certified by SCS Global Services, Global Recycled Standard, Organic Content Standard 100, Recycled Claim Standard Blended and Responsible Wool Standard. Amazon relies on third-party certifications to “encourage a common set of standards across retailers,” But in some product categories, “there are not well-established certifications with catalogs of existing certified products” so Amazon is supporting newer certifications in the hopes that manufacturers will pursue these certifications.
For the rest, certified eco-friendly products are available to shop — you can filter items based on each certification.
To help you get a sense of the range of products the label offers, we rounded up a few of the most highly rated products from each of the certifications that are ready to shop right now.
Top rated Amazon Climate Pledge Friendly products
Here are the 18 active certifications included in Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly endeavor, listed alphabetically, along with highly rated products boasting those certifications. Six additional certifications are still in the works.
Bluesign certified products are described as being “responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production” on Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly list of certifications. Brands have to account for the traceability of a product’s processing, starting with the raw materials used. Bluesign requires that products feature approved textiles. You can find all Bluesign certified products on Amazon here.
This jacket features synthetic down insulation for warmth and the brand’s Omni-Heat lining that’s designed to keep heat inside. The water-resistant jacket also includes a fleece lined collar and cuffs with thumb holes for more protection from the cold. It currently comes in sizes XS to XL and five colors, including Black and Olive Green. It boasts an average 4.8-star rating over more than 1,000 reviews on Amazon.
For this certification, a company has to conduct an assessment of its product (or products) that it wants to certify using one of the specific standards that carbon neutrality organization Carbonfree has chosen (including from the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, which Climate Neutral employs, too) to figure out its carbon footprint. Then a company provides an annual emissions reduction plan to the organization and must offset those carbon emissions quarterly, Carbonfree explains in its protocol. You can find all Carbonfree Certified products on Amazon here.
From eco-friendly cleaning brand Cleancult, which uses recyclable milk cartons for refills and refillable glass bottles for its products, this refill has earned a 4.3-star rating over close to 200 reviews. The brand says this cruelty-free hand soap is made to work with dry, oily and sensitive skin. It’s made with a lavender scent and formulated with coconut and olive oil.
For a product to earn this certification, companies must go through a five-step process, including measuring the greenhouse gas emissions through an independent third-party and reducing emissions to net-zero for a specific time frame that’s set. The protocol that CarbonNeutral uses to certify is reviewed every year, Natural Capital Partners says. You can find all CarbonNeutral by Natural Capital Partners on Amazon here.
All of Logitech’s gaming products are certified as CarbonNeutral, according to the certification body. This gaming mouse is popular with Amazon shoppers, earning an average 4.7-star rating over more than 18,700 reviews. You can assign custom commands to each button (the mouse has 11) and save up to five player profiles for when you want to jump between games. There are five removable weights inside the mouse that you can take out for better balance as well.
A Climate neutral label means that ClimatePartner, a company that works with brands to calculate their carbon footprints, has measured the carbon emissions of a product and that a brand has reduced and offset those emissions through projects for deforestation or using renewable energy. These labels are given ID numbers, which you can check to see the offsets that product or brand is supporting. You can find all Climate neutral by ClimatePartner certified products on Amazon here.
Schneider’s offset efforts include forest protection in Brazil, according to ClimatePartner. This set of ballpoint pens features the brand’s Viscoglide Advanced Ink Technology that’s meant to make writing smooth — the ink is designed to be waterproof as well. The pen itself includes an ergonomic shape and a stainless steel tip. The box of five pens has earned an average 4.7-star rating over more than 3,000 reviews.
Amazon’s own Compact by Design label certifies products featuring a more “efficient design” — removing excess air and water — to reduce the carbon footprint of sending out and packing a product. Amazon uses what it calls “unit efficiency,” or the cubed volume per unit times the weight per unit, to qualify products and sets thresholds by categories like conditioners and detergents. You can find all Compact by Design certified products on Amazon here.
This leave-in treatment is formulated with salicylic acid, which is meant to help with clogged pores for acne-prone skin. It’s also designed to also brighten and even skin tones — and works for all skin types, the brand says. The formula is free of parabens, fragrances, and colorants. It’s a popular pick with Amazon shoppers, boasting an average 4.6-star rating over more than 30,600 reviews.
Cradle to Cradle certification is meant to measure the safety and sustainability of a product, which is assessed based on five performance categories including what’s called “material health” to make sure the chemicals used in an item are safe for humans and “material reutilization” for continual reuse and less waste. The program requires that a third party (acceptable organizations are publicly listed) evaluates data based on the aforementioned criteria that’s then used to decide if certification is earned. There’s a product registry you can search through, too. You can find all Cradle to Cradle certified products on Amazon here.
Many of the products in Garnier’s Fructis hair care line are Cradle to Cradle certified. This conditioner is a popular pick with Amazon shoppers, earning an average 4.7-star rating over more than 6,000 reviews. The conditioner is designed to help hair resist breakage. It’s formulated to be vegan, paraben-free and infused with apple extract.
The ECOLOGO certification covers construction, cleaning, paper and personal care products among others. Generally, these products are supposed to “reduce the environmental impact of one or more stages of the product lifecycle,” according to Amazon. The program is run by UL, a safety science organization. These products either go through scientific testing, auditing or both to make sure they follow specific environmental performance standards for the kind of product it is, UL says. You can find all ECOLOGO certified products on Amazon here.
This cleaning spray can be used on hardwood floors, tiles, countertops and walls. The brand claims it uses plant-derived ingredients and essential oils in its formula while the spray is free of phthalates and parabens. You can choose between five scents including Lavender, Peony and Lemon Verbena. The pack of three — each bottle is 16 ounces — boasts an average 4.8-star rating over more than 36,000 reviews.
A joint effort from the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, Energy Star label is designed to help identify “top-performing, cost-effective products” that are energy efficient — meaning they are meant to help cut costs of electricity and thus, reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2011, Energy Star Most Efficient launched — an annual list of the best Energy Star products in specific categories like ceiling fans and computer monitors. The latest list for 2021 can be found here. You can find all Energy Star Most Efficient products on Amazon here.
The model is listed under Energy Star’sMost Efficient this year. This 27-inch monitor features four USB ports and an ergonomic stand with tilt, swivel, pivot and height adjustments to use while you’re working with it. The monitor also comes with the brand’s ProArt Palette, which allows you to customize the colors of your display based on parameters like saturation and temperature. It has an average 4.7-star rating over more than 1,600 reviews.
EPEAT (which stands for Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) evolved from a grant from the EPA and is owned and managed by non-profit Global Electronics Council. The label is used for technology products and services — a certified EPEAT item meets both mandatory (which a third party that participates with the program) and optional criteria that measures its environmental impact in terms of production, energy use and more. There are three tiers of certification — bronze, silver and gold — based on how much optional criteria a product meets. There’s even an EPEAT Registry to search through all certified products. You can find all EPEAT certified products on Amazon here.
This printer was registered last May and is in the silver tier — scoring points for its packaging and ability to be recycled at the end of the product’s use cycle. This printer can also scan and copy, along with featuring automatic double-sided printing and borderless photo printing. With the HP Smart app, you can connect the printer to Wi-Fi and use it across different devices. It has an average 4.4-star rating over more than 7,500 reviews on Amazon.
One of the more well-known certifications, Fairtrade is designed to help farmers get a better deal when brands are sourcing from what they’ve grown. The organization bases its standards on three categories: economic (including the traceability of a product), social (like letting workers organize) and environmental (the organization bans the use of pesticides). A brand first reaches out to Fairtrade to start the certification process — which includes certifying a product’s supply chain through a third-party auditing group. Fairtrade’s certified products include bananas, coffee and chocolate. You can find all Fairtrade International certified products on Amazon here.
Kicking Horse says it uses Fairtrade-certified Arabica coffee beans from the Canadian Rocky Mountains. You can choose between flavors like 454 Horse Power, a dark roast that’s described as velvety, and Cliff Hanger Espresso, a medium roast that’s meant to have chocolate notes. This option includes whole beans and choices for both decaffeinated and caffeinated roasts as well. The coffee comes in both a 2.2-pound bag and one that’s 10 ounces. This coffee has earned an average 4.5-star rating over close to 19,000 reviews on Amazon.
Broadly speaking, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) registration means that products come from “responsibly managed forests.” There are three FSC labels you’ll see on items: FSC 100% (products are sourced from forests that have been independently audited based on the council’s environmental standards), FSC Recycled (items using reclaimed materials) and FSC Mix (goods that use materials from FSC-certified forests and recycled materials). The labels will have a corresponding number you can check online to make sure a product is actually certified. You can find all Forest Stewardship Council certified products on Amazon here.
This pack of three reams (a measuring unit that’s specific to paper) includes 1,500 sheets. While the paper is meant for HP-branded printers, the company claims it can be used with other printing and copier equipment as well for the same performance. Each sheet also uses Colorlok Technology, which is meant to provide more brighter colors and bolder black hues, along with drying faster. The printer is popular on Amazon, earning an average 4.8-star rating over more than 14,600 reviews.
The Global Organic Textile Standard certification process looks at the entire textile supply chain of a product, including annual on-site inspection of where an item is made that could mean interviews with workers and checking wastewater systems. Notably, the standard offers an online tool to help trace the supply chain of a product that you can filter through things like a registration number and name of a company. You can find all Global Organic Textile Standard certified products on Amazon here.
These cloths are designed to be worn over the shoulder while burping a baby after a meal, along with for spit, spills and changing clothes. Each is made from organic cotton that’s meant to be breathable, especially for more sensitive skin. The clothes in the pack of five feature a two-ply and three-panel design for added absorbency and easy folding, the brand claims. You can currently choose between eight colorways, including Hello Moon and Tossed Succulents. The pack has earned an average 4.9-star rating over more than 6,500 reviews.
Founded in 1989, nonprofit Green Seal certifies cleaning, sanitary and facilities care products based on criteria like their ability to minimize waste (like using recycled materials) and how well they protect human health (such as their toxicity). Green Seal says it reviews these standards every three to five years. Green Seal does have a database of certified products to search through. You can find all Green Seal certified products on Amazon here.
These tissues meet Green Seal’s standard for sanitary paper products, which includes looking at how an item limits water and energy use during manufacturing. The pack includes 30 boxes of tissues — so it might be suitable for an office space, small business or even to stock away in a basement. The tissues are made from recycled fibers, the brand claims. There’s 100 sheets of tissue per box. It has earned an average 4.1-star rating over more than 1,400 reviews.
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition counts retailers like Allbirds and Nordstrom as members and uses the Higg Index to measure the environmental impact of a product in terms of water use, carbon emissions and more. According to the nonprofit, a brand has to provide information on what materials are used in the making of a product and third-party documentation to confirm those claims. Products are then scored based on how their impact compared to conventional materials (for example, organic versus standard content) — you can check a product’s “scorecard” based on a profile ID if the product provides it publicly. You can find all Higg Index Materials certified products on Amazon here.
This fleece pullover is made with recycled polyester, the brand claims. It features a half-zip at the neck with the Helly Hansen logo embroidered at the chest. It currently comes in sizes S to 5X and 16 colors including Black and Grenadine. It has earned an average 4.5-star rating over more than 500 reviews on Amazon.
OEKO-TEX is made up of 18 independent research and testing centers in both Europe and Japan — the standards that the organization uses come from information that these institutes establish. There are a number of standards that OEKO-TEX follows to certify products — but it’s the Made in Green label that’s listed under Climate Pledge Friendly certification. This label denotes that a textile product is made from materials tested from harmful substances, in environmentally-friendly facilities through safe, socially responsible working conditions, according to OEKO-TEX. Each physical label should provide a product ID or QR code to track how an item was produced (some brands list the ID number on product pages as well). You can find all Made in Green by OEKO-TEX certified products on Amazon here.
This set of eight towels started off being made in Turkey, according to OEKO-TEX’s Label Check. The set includes bath towels and hand towels, which are made with bamboo viscose and Turkish cotton, the brand says. Each towel is designed to be odor-resistant and absorbent. These towels have earned an average 4.7-star rating over more than 300 reviews.
Rainforest Alliance’s certification means a product was produced using three “pillars” in mind as the organization calls them — social (including better working conditions), economic (enhancing opportunities for rural people) and environmental (like preventing deforestation). The organization claims third-party auditors judge with these pillars in mind to award certification. The label features a green frog and certified products are listed in a public database. You can find all Rainforest Alliance certified products on Amazon here.
Charmin’s bathroom and facial tissues are certified under the Rainforest Alliance. This pack includes 24 rolls of toilet paper, with more sheets per roll than the regular Mega Roll, the brand claims. It’s meant to be soft in order to use less. The brand says the toilet paper is clog- and septic-safe. The pack is a popular pick with Amazon shoppers, boasting an average 4.8-star rating over more than 30,900 reviews.
Out of all the certifications featured under the Climate Pledge Friendly program, this one features the least amount of products — three, all from Amazon’s own label Goodthreads. Nonprofit Textile Exchange certifies products through eight sets of standards, including the Recycled Claim Standard 100. This standard verifies that a product uses recycled materials. Amazon says the products with this label on its website are made from at least 95 percent recycled materials. You can find all Recycled Claim Standard 100 certified products on Amazon here.
This jacket features four pockets in the front — two near the waistline and two chest pockets. It also comes with a hood and is designed with a ribbed trim at the neckline, sleeves and hem. The jacket currently comes in eight colors — including Blue and Burgundy — and sizes XS to 3X Tall (keep in mind that only sizes M to 3X are available in a Tall option). It has an average 4.6-star rating with over close to 300 reviews.
Carbon Trust uses seven labels, each featuring an actual print of a footprint, to certify that a product’s carbon footprint has either been measured using internationally recognized standards (including one that Climate Neutral also employs), is being reduced year over year or offset, making it carbon neutral. The label you’ll find on Amazon is one called Reducing CO2, which means a product is reducing its footprint but offsets don’t count towards these efforts. The certification lasts for two years. You can find all Reducing CO2 certified products on Amazon here.
Many of Amazon’s own devices feature the Reducing CO2 label, including older versions of the Fire TV Stick and fourth generation Echo Dot smart speaker. This streaming device is the latest launch in the Fire TV Stick line — Amazon claims it’s 50 percent more powerful than the previous generation. It offers options for home entertainment including Disney+, Apple TV, HBO Max, Netflix and more. You can also use Alexa to control the remote and toggle between pre-set buttons for your preferred apps. It boasts an average 4.7-star rating over more than 4,200 reviews.
How to shop more sustainably on Amazon
Shopping on Amazon can be very convenient and very fast, from same-day shipping on orders for Prime members to offering up a little bit of everything: groceries, personal care items, books and much more. And while Climate Pledge Friendly products are eco-friendly, there are other ways for shoppers to be more sustainable.
“The first is to actually shop less. Really think twice before you submit that order,” said Pamela Chasek, a professor and chair of the political science department at Manhattan College. “Do you really need it?” For shoppers who are looking to be more sustainable when actually shopping at Amazon, Chasek suggested:
- Buying products that are shipped with Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging. Werbach also explained that the program “financially incentivizes manufacturers to package their products in easy-to-open recyclable packaging that is ready to ship to customers without the need for an additional shipping box.”
- Choosing no-rush shipping in order to reduce the carbon footprint of your order.
- Recycling and reusing shipping materials like boxes that are delivered to your door.
- Shopping and selling used items from the company’s Second Chance section to lessen consumption and production waste — you can also find plenty of refurbished products on Amazon.
“I think Amazon should make certain options default — like plastic-free shipping on most items, frustration-free packaging, no-rush shipping,” Chasek added. “This would mean that the customer doesn’t need to request these things but would have to opt out. Except in a few emergency cases, you don’t need to have those shoes shipped overnight, for example.”
Catch up on the latest from NBC News Shopping guides and recommendations and download the NBC News app for full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak.