Buying eco-certified products is one key way to lower your environmental impact – but the world of certification labels isn’t always so easy to navigate. What’s really the difference between organic and certified organic? What do LEED, Greenguard, and Energy Star certifications tell you? Do you really need to buy FSC-certified wood? We’re here to help your efforts to help the environment: We’ve detailed five of the most common certifications to guide you on your path to a greener life.

Greenguard

The Greenguard Environmental Institute focuses on “improving indoor air quality and reducing chemical exposure”, so if you’re buying something that’s Greenguard certified, you can breathe easy (literally). Look for everyday items like mattresses, furniture, and curtains – plus more specialty products like countertops, construction materials, and electronics – that minimize the quantity of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulates, and other nasty chemicals being released into your home, office, or schools.

Organic

Just because a product has the word “organic” in its name doesn’t mean that you know exactly what you’re getting. For that guarantee, you want to look for products that are certified organic by the USDA (or another certification agency). That label means that it’s not just the finished product – but also the process – that’s free of synthetic ingredients, hormones, antibiotics, and banned chemicals.

Energy Star

From refrigerators and dishwashers to dryers and office buildings, the Energy Star certification is a quick way of recognizing which products (and places) are designed to save energy. Want to know exactly how efficient that new washing machine is? The Energy Star website offers and downloadable guide to every certified product so you can see exactly how much energy you’re saving.

Read more: http://home.howstuffworks.com/green-living/understanding-eco-friendly-certifications.htm