Every time you buy something, you are making a choice about your impact on the environment. Every product in the store has an environmental cost. Modern electronics use rare metals that are mined from the earth. Paper products require trees to be harvested. Companies that produce these products also make environmental choices. Their efforts to make a profit can either harm or heal the environment. Here are three criteria you might use to determine if a product is environmentally ethical.
An important place to start is determining if a product is produced in a sustainable way. Crowdspring explains that the four areas to optimize for sustainability are: manufacturing, transportation, use, and disposal. Advancements in all those areas are essential for more environmentally sustainable products. Does the manufacturer incorporate renewable energy sources such as wind and solar in its production process? Are rare materials recovered and reused in new products? You will also want to look at harvesting practices if they apply. For example, an ethical paper production company might have a program to replant as many trees as they harvest in a season. Ethical companies with seek to either have a zero net effect on the environment or may even try to have an overall positive effect.
In recent years, consumers have been paying attention to the sourcing of products. How much energy is consumed in bringing materials to the manufacturing plant? How much waste is created along the way? doTERRA discusses how consumers, particularly millennials, are becoming more concerned with the traceability of the products they consume. It’s becoming more evident that just having a catchy CSR program as a company just won’t cut it, and that companies need real answers as to the source of their products. A company that takes sourcing seriously will have done the research and can easily show how raw materials get to the factory and how the product gets from the factory to shelves.
For too long, society has been comfortable with treating products as disposable. Especially with the advent of plastics in the early twentieth century, lower prices on goods meant less emphasis on durability. For many companies, this led to increased production and increased profits. In some cases, products were designed to fail after a certain amount of time. For the environment, this has meant overflowing landfills and islands of plastic floating in the ocean. Ethical products are designed to last. They may have a compartmental design where parts can be repaired or replaced rather than replacing the whole unit when it fails. If a product has been on the market for some time, product reviews can help you predict how long it will last without issue.
Consumers are demanding that companies have environmentally ethical policies and practices in place. They want to know that their shopping is causing minimal harm to the planet. By paying attention to what your buy and how it is made, you can make a difference in healing the environment.