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Images: A glance at green labels

As companies race to appear eco-friendly, which green product claims are trustworthy?

Click on this image for an image gallery of independent, green product labels.
Click on this image for an image gallery of independent, green product labels. Jeremy Faludi

With so many "green" options appearing on everyday products, navigating the marketplace can be tricky if you're attempting to green your life.

Home Depot stamps efficient lightbulbs, low-toxic paints, and other goods as "Eco Options." SC Johnson sells Windex certified by Greenlist, the company's internal effort to reduce toxicants in its product line. Canon labels printers as "Generation Green."

Environmentalists may applaud corporate efforts to sell fewer polluting and poisonous goods and services. But some consumer watchdogs warn that the proliferation of green claims will confuse or mislead shoppers, and prefer that companies agree on industry-wide standards.

This CNET guide to green labels covers popular, third-party markings on electronics and other products. Their logos represent pooled efforts by experts not on the payroll of companies selling the labeled products, such as scientists, nonprofit groups, designers, and government officials.

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Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission is revising its guidelines (PDF) for green marketing claims (PDF), which haven't been updated for nearly a decade.

The Consumers Union directory of eco-labels describes in detail what's behind labeling on food, home cleaners, pesticides, wood, and other goods.