Is that product really sustainable? 5 Sources to explore
Updated: May 17, 2022
Now that consumers are learning more about the lifespan of products, companies are focusing more on sustainability.
In recent years you have likely heard the phrases earth friendly, sustainable, clean, carbon footprint and more. We are guessing you have seen more than one video that shows how plastics gather in our oceans, and the effect they can have on our global habitats, specifically our oceans. Now that consumers are learning more about the lifespan of products, companies are focusing more on sustainability. What does sustainable actually mean? How do you decipher if a company really is supporting the future of our planet?
Here are two examples of products billed as eco-friendly and natural, but causing significant harm to ecosystems, not to mention the expansive carbon footprint for production and shipping.
Palm oil is heavily contributing to deforestation, and harming several different animal species.
According to the WWF, palm oil “is in close to 50% of the packaged products we find in supermarkets, everything from pizza, doughnuts and chocolate, to deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste and lipstick.” It is often listed on products labeled natural and vegan; soaps, for instance. Palm oil is heavily contributing to deforestation, and harming several different animal species. Upside, the industry now has a sustainable practices certification in palm oil.
The problem with bamboo is in the production process when it becomes a high source of pollution.
Marketing touts bamboo as a sustainable material mostly based on the fact that it is a naturally based product. It can also be easily regenerated in areas after harvesting. Bamboo falls under “viscose”, which is the production of textiles from plants. It is often blended with natural fibers, and is widely used in fast fashion in order to produce high inventories for a cheaper cost to manufacturers and consumers. Bamboo itself is not bad for the environment. The problem with bamboo is in the production process when it becomes a high source of pollution as a result of chemicals and energy consumption.
You may be familiar with the term greenwashing, where a company uses marketing that leads consumers to believe their products are sustainable and eco-friendly, but really, they are similar to the examples of palm oil and bamboo. Another example might be recycled materials products, which can still be detrimental to our water systems when washed and reused.
How do consumers filter through the mess of unsubstantiated labels?
How do you make decisions about products in your own home while filtering through the confusing marketing messages? Here are five sources we recommend to help you along the way in understanding more about your everyday household.
The EcoCult: Alden Wicker, journalist, sustainable fashion expert, and recovering influencer. [She] started EcoCult in 2013 because there were almost no publications willing to talk honestly about what fashion is doing to the planet and people.
The Good Trade: The Good Trade is out of LA, and has over 1M monthly readers looking to learn more about sustainable brands and slow fashion. Check their page to get recommendations for companies and brands holding up the true standard of sustainable products.
NatureHub: Meet a platform that covers all your healthy lifestyle needs and helps you live a more ethical and sustainable life.
Our New World: This space is all about sustainability and making your lifestyle more eco-friendly one step at a time and at your own pace. [They] also love thrift stores and creating fashionable outfits from second hand finds.
The Spruce: Practical, real-life tips and inspiration to help you make your best home. From decorating and gardening advice, to entertaining and home repair how-tos, The Spruce can show you how.