Here's my trick: A two-part strategy to foil even the stickiest goo (and this also works for things like labels on bottles and jars).
First, gently try to pull the sticker off. If the manufacturer is kind, the adhesive will have a low tack, and the whole thing may come off without any residue.
If there's still some paper left behind, either soak the item in warm, soapy water, or if the item can't be immersed, dampen a small cloth (like a dish rag or a facecloth), and put the cloth over the paper sticker for several minutes, until you can easily scrape the paper off with your fingernails.
(If the item is glass, you can also use a razor blade in a safety holder to scrape the sticker off.)
If the paper comes off without any problem but there's still some sticky stuff left behind, you can use a product like Goo Gone - but if you want an eco-friendly alternative, try using a pure citrus essential oil.
Citrus oil is the active ingredient in a lot of the newer eco-friendly cleansers, and it's a great solvent for nasty, petrochemical-based gunk (I've used it successfully on adhesives and tar, as well cooking-oil stains and oil paints).
I prefer to buy Aura Cacia essential oils because I trust that they are 100% pure and high-quality. Put a few drops of the essential oil (I like to use lemon) on the sticky areas, and gently rub with a damp cloth until the adhesive is removed. It may require several applications of essential oil if the adhesive is especially stubborn.
If the item is to be used in the kitchen, just remember that essential oils, while preferable to products like Goo Gone, are not food-grade. If you decide you want to use a solvent on items that will touch food, use your own best judgement, weigh the risks, and if you decide to go ahead and use the essential oil, do everything you can to remove all traces of it from the item afterwards.
One last caveat: Essential oils can degrade some plastics - so when in doubt, test the oil on a small, inconspicuous spot first. I once used a citrus solvent on a plastic shower door, and it ate away the surface of the plastic, leaving behind a hazy, pebbly mess.
copyright 2007, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow