The popularity of sustainable brands has been on the rise over the past few years, and for good reason.
From organic cotton to recycled materials, there are a number of ways that companies can reduce their carbon footprint while also giving back to society.
These companies make products that not only last longer than traditionally made items, but they’re also better for the environment and your health.
But before you go running out to the shops, there are many things we need to look out for when buying sustainable products.
Sustainability is more than just a trend, it’s about making responsible choices to ensure that future generations will have access to resources as well as live in a healthy environment.
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When you buy from sustainable brands, you know you’re doing something good for yourself and others.
This article will cover six things worth looking out for when buying sustainable products.
- How to tell if a product is sustainable
- What to look for when buying sustainable products
- Conclusion: Things to Look For When Buying Sustainable Products
How to tell if a product is sustainable
Check the label
This sounds obvious, but we can easily overlook the simplest step to knowing what we’re buying.
Start by looking for labels that show the materials used in the production of the item.
If your item is made from organic materials, it will usually be tagged with a Certified Organic label – this means the product has been inspected by a governing body to ensure that it meets their standards.
Similarly, when you see items tagged as recycled or upcycled, make sure to take note of what they’re made from and where the materials originate from.
Search on Good on You
Good on You is a website that researches each brand’s environmental impact and gives ratings so that you can make the most ethical choice when shopping.
Companies are rated based on their waste management, impact on workers throughout the entire supply chain, animal welfare policies and resources used in production.
You can even download their app so you’ll always have the information on the go.
Email them or ask in-store
If you can’t find out enough information on the brand you want to buy from, send them an email or ask in-store!
Employees should know the sustainable practices of their company.
If you are emailing, be aware that companies that don’t have sustainable practices in place might not give much information in their response. For example, they may advise that they use plastic-free packaging, with no other information.
Don’t be afraid to keep on digging. If they are unable to provide more comprehensive answers, it’s definitely worth shopping around for a brand that has better practices in place.
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What to look for when buying sustainable products
Resources used in production
When you’re buying new products, it’s worth checking the specific materials that are used.
For example, organic cotton uses less water and pesticides than conventionally farmed cotton. This means fewer resources are needed to produce the product, and there is less of an impact on the environment.
Organic cotton is an obvious choice when choosing sustainable fabric, but there are quite a few other textiles that can be safely grown without the use of chemicals.
Check which materials your product uses, including both the main material and any smaller components like buttons or zippers.
Products labelled with materials from renewable sources tend to rely heavily on materials such as bamboo or hemp, which are made from plants that rapidly grow and don’t require intensive resources to produce.
There should also be a conscious effort made to use less plastic for the packaging of the products. A lot of sustainable brands will encourage their customers to refill their containers rather than buy new ones every time they run out. Alternatively, some brands are opting for infinitely recyclable packaging, such as glass bottles.
As well as the product’s material, it’s also worth looking at how much waste is created during production and shipping.
Does the brand offer zero-waste or plastic-free options? How does their packaging compare to other brands in terms of size and materials?
End of life
Every product we buy will one day need to be replaced, which inevitably means that things will be thrown out.
Sustainable brands tend to have a plan for their products at the end of life, and some will offer buyer’s guides or education about how to recycle or refurbish.
This is great because it means that your product will be reutilised, rather than ending up in landfill.
Recycling or refurbishment also makes the product more cost efficient to you, which is great if you’re looking for low impact.
Other products are biodegradable, meaning that they can be broken down naturally by soil or water through a natural process of decomposition.
Awareness of supply chain issues
You can’t always be sure of how your product was made, but brands who are conscious about their supply chains will ensure that they are ethical throughout the process.
Supply chain issues can include unfair wages or working conditions, child labour and environmental concerns.
Brands who are committed to sustainable practices will typically monitor their supply chains to ensure that they follow sustainability principles.
With a growing awareness about ethical practices in fashion, sustainable brands are likely to be open and transparent about their supply chains.
Awareness of the impact of their business
It’s also important to find brands who are conscious about the social and environmental impacts of their business.
This might include the use of sustainable paper or recycled packaging, or taking steps to reduce carbon emissions within their company.
Companies using renewable energy are also more likely to be conscious about their sustainability efforts.
For example, some brands are using solar power on site to run their operations, making their supply chains more green.
These kinds of choices show that the brand is actively taking steps to ensure that the products are made with minimal negative impact.
As interest in veganism and vegetarianism grows, so does the demand for cruelty-free products.
There are many sustainable brands that opt for synthetic materials over animal-based ones.
However, as a conscious consumer, you will want to look out for companies that use no animal products at all in their production.
Animal testing is also something to look out for. It is not only cruel, but it’s also unnecessary as there are so many non-animal tested products available.
As well as this, some sustainable brands also make sure their suppliers are complying to animal welfare rules, ensuring that they are not using any animal product in their production.
Green Initiatives and Commitment to Sustainability
Are there any green initiatives that the brand is involved in? Has this company taken steps towards being more eco-friendly? What about social responsibility?
Does your brand do anything in order to help charitable causes or support environmental campaigns?
Many sustainable companies give back to the community.
They might share a percentage of their revenue with a charity, host recycling events or volunteer with companies for beach clean-ups.
Read also: 25 Simple Ways to Consume Less This Year
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Conclusion: Things to Look For When Buying Sustainable Products
Sustainable brands have a lot to offer.
Shopping with these kinds of companies is an easy way to make sure that your lifestyle aligns with your values and that you’re making green choices as often as possible.
It’s important to research a company before buying from them, ensuring you know what you’re purchasing.
Do the research, find out what you want to know, and then buy confidently knowing that your purchase is helping create change in the world.
Have I missed anything? What are some other things you look for when buying sustainable products?