- Greenwashing, the process of conveying something falsely of being sustainable or “green,” is a trap consumers fall into all too often. Sustainable can mean so many different things, so we want to be transparent on the guidelines and rubric we used when looking at brands to choose to include.
- We also acknowledge that sustainability and ethics are jointly related. Can something really be ethical if it isn’t sustainable? If we are buying non-sustainable items how does that affect not only our human neighbors but also our animal neighbors? Is it ethical for our modern luxuries as a developed nation to cause environmental impacts to target and affect lower-developed nations who do not partake in the same luxuries? Likewise, can something be sustainable if it is not ethical? Can we honestly allow ourselves to continue to profit off of business models that operate at the expense of marginalized communities?
- Our rubric combines principles of ethics and sustainability to assess brands holistically. While not every brand is perfect, we hope to highlight the brands striving for better practices, while also noting places that can be improved. Below are the categories we consider when auditing brands, and some guiding questions we use.
- Labor Are laborers manufacturing the products treated ethically? Are they given fair wages, or even living wages? What are factory conditions like? Are workers allowed to unionize? Cruelty-Free How are animals treated? Are materials sourced from vulnerable or endangered plants or animals? Is the product tested on animals? Is the product vegan? If not, does the brand adhere to animal welfare policies?
- Ownership - Who is benefiting from the business's profits? Is it a marginalized group or a larger corporation profiting? Do the profits go to a vulnerable group? Is this a small business, USA-made, owned by a BIPOC, woman, or LGBTQ+ identifying person? Does the brand make an effort to distribute the wealth?
- Usability - Is this product worth the energy expenditure? Is it a necessity? Is it a quality product that can be used or worn multiple times?
- Resource Base - What materials is the product made out of? Is it carbon-intensive to make? Is it a renewable resource? Are the materials toxic for the workers or the environment? Where are the materials sourced? Are the farming or growing practices used to produce the material environmentally friendly? What is the packaging made out of?
- Manufacturing - How energy-intensive is the manufacturing process? What type of energy do the factories use? Where are the factories located in conjunction with where materials are produced? How are the air, water, and waste emissions? Is waste disposed of effectively?
- Transportation - Where is the product coming from? Is it being shipped from across the world? Is it by air or road? Or sea or rail? What are the carbon emissions associated with shipping?
- Circularity - Can the product be reused or recycled? Is it made of materials that can go back into the environment safely? Will it end up in the landfill? Is the product disposable with minimal impact? Is the product made with recyclable goods, or designed in a circular model?