By Casey Grey
The world is full of labels.
Passive House, Energy Star, R-2000, LEED Certified, FSC Certified, CSA Approved and HVI Certified are ones that come up often for me in the construction world.
Vegan, Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Paleo, Raw and Flexitarian are all labels for different types of diets (and I know there's more).
Mental disorders are a whole other game. There's a 3" thick book called the DSM-5 that explains all the shit that's "wrong" with us.
I'm not a fan of labels but I understand and appreciate the importance they play in our society.
As somebody who primarily eats a vegan and gluten-free diet, I appreciate seeing those labels.
As somebody who builds healthy and sustainable homes, I see the value in having a third party certify a home and prove that it was built to a certain standard.
When labeled with a mental disorder, it can be beneficial in the sense that the person may gain access to additional resources and realize that they are not alone.
The issue is that most of us have no idea what the labels mean.
If I were to show the general population the Passive House label, chances are they would not know what it meant. If I were to show people at a Green Building Show that same label, most people would likely recognise it but I guarantee you a lot of them would have no idea what was required to get that label.
People who do not put a lot of attention into the food they put into their bodies won't necessarily know what vegan is or where gluten comes from or what foods contain what. Personally, I'm still not sure what a paleo diet is...
Since I have no education in the mental disorder world, when I hear somebody is labeled with something specific I have to do research if I want to understand what that means (a.k.a. I ask my wife because she does have formal education here).
The other important factor to understand is that labels often only account for one aspect.
A Passive House does not mean it was built with healthy products (it puts the attention on performance).
A LEED Certified house does not mean it is energy efficient (it puts a lot of attention on materials).
A Vegan diet does not mean it's healthy (refined sugar and vegetable oil is vegan).
A diagnosis of ADHD does not mean the person is not smart or can not focus (most entrepreneurs I know would fall under this category).
Don't get caught up in the labels. Although they tell us important information, it's not the whole story.