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How We Ensure Our Suppliers Are Actually Sustainable

How We Ensure Our Suppliers Are Actually Sustainable

If you don’t know what greenwashing is, it's when a company markets a product as sustainable or ethical, when it's really anything but.

I interviewed 232 individuals about what the hardest part about shopping sustainably was. Here were their answers, ranked from their biggest pain point to their least.

  1. Price
  2. Availability
  3. Greenwashing

When discussing greenwashing, this is what the interviewees sounded like: ”Aidan, I want to shop sustainably, but it takes so much time to try to figure out which companies are actually sustainable"

In which I would respond:

“I understand, and I carry the weight of greenwashing on my shoulders every day” - Aidan

When people find our site, they can find it hard to believe our prices. And that's because today, we we equate price with quality, and it's a reasonable thing to do.

No prominent brand has really ever tried to focus all their attention at selling only high quality products at low prices, It's breaking the status quo.

My business mentors don’t get it, my parents don’t get it, and… I’m still figuring it out myself.

But what I can tell you is this, Ecoternatives is doing everything it can to sell high-quality, sustainable, plastic-free products, at the lowest price possible.

Okay, enough of the yatta yatta.

"How are you, a 22-year-old, deciding whether a product/supplier is as sustainable and ethical, as they say they are?"

Well, to be honest, I never know for certain. But I can tell you that I take weeks trying to figure it out. And over the past 3 years, I’ve gotten quite good at it.

This is our 12-step process figuring out whether a product/company is as sustainable and ethical as they claim to be:

Step 1: Where is the product manufactured?

Naturally, this can say a lot about sustainability and ethical standards

Step 2: What accredited 3rd Party certifications does this company have?

This is great to know because it means somebody has already done the research for me.

For example, B certifications are legally obliged to uphold certain environmental and social standards.

It doesn’t mean that they’re the most sustainable, or even plastic-free for that matter, but it means they generally do a good job.

What’s important to note though, is that you kind of need to be a bigger business to get an accreditation like this. And many small businesses can do just as good, if not better, than B-certs but not be able to pay the annual fee required for the certification.

Step 3: What raw materials or ingredients does this product or company use?

Is it local?

Does it support small businesses?

Are the suppliers for these ingredients even reliable?

Why the hell are they using synthetic fragrances? Or non-certified palm oil?

Are they using post-consumer or pre-consumer recycled plastic?

You get my point.

Step 4: Does the company sell on Amazon?

I generally trust these companies less because Amazon’s packaging and supply chain is hard to trust.

Step 5: Does the company have giveback programs?

Are they donating a percentage of their profits, or sales (big difference alert)

How much are they donating?

Step 6: Who is behind this business? 

Why did they get into it?

Is it because eco-friendly products have higher profit margins, or do they really care about the planet and its people?

Step 7: What does their packaging look like?

Is the company shipping their products in already used cereal boxes (very zero waste of them), or in bioplastic from a questionable supplier, or in a huge box for a small product?

Are they using petroleum-free ink for printing?

Are they using paper tape instead of plastic tape?

Step 8: Are their company reviews good?

You can find a lot of dirt about a company through reviews.

Step 9: Do their products contain plastic or any other questionable materials?

If a company has 9 eco-friendly products, and 1 product made in plastic. We don’t want to work with them, it doesn’t make sense.

Step 10: What articles or press has been published about this company?

Are eco experts supporting this brand? Are they bashing it?

Step 11: How big is the company?

Does it have a parent company?

Is the parent company Procter & Gamble, hehe...

Step 12: Other

After our research, we'll generally still have questions about a company. So we might do things like email the company and asking further questions, or set up a meeting with the founders.

Wrapping it Up

We believe the 3 years of building Ecoternatives would be a waste if we made our products affordable at the expense of sustainability. We built this store as environmentalists, not big business, and we don't BS.

Thanks for being part of it.

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