We read food labels to avoid trans fats, sugar, and salt. Why not read labels on the cleansers, personal care products, furniture, clothing, carpeting and home improvement goods we buy so we can shift our spending to those that best protect the planet?

The Institute for Market Transformation to Sustainability (MTS) rates building products, lighting, fabrics, apparel, textiles and flooring. Its SMART standard reflects a manufacturer’s success in reducing more than 1300 pollutants; in using renewable energy as well as post-consumer recycled or organic materials; and in reusing materials to save energy, water, and other resources. Through this “life cycle assessment,” SMART encourages industries to achieve ambitious environmental goals that benefit society and the economy, too.

As you shift your spending to the most earth-friendly products and services, choose those that have been certified to meet sustainable standards. You’ll help reduce climate change, protect clean air and water, and help save rainforests and other natural resources.

Here’s a rundown of some of the most reliable standards to look for when you shop: STANDARDS.

Diane MacEachern, the author of Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World, is passionate about empowering women to use their marketplace clout to protect the environment.