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Empower Change through Conscious Consumerism: How to Identify Sustainable Products

Now, more than ever, the need to become more environmentally conscious is vital for the health of our planet and the well-being of future generations. An easy step in the right direction is making sure we are choosing sustainable products vs unsustainable products. This alone has a significant impact on reducing our ecological footprint. From mittens to lightbulbs, the choices we make today as consumers have a profound impact on shaping the world we live in both present and future. Let's spotlight the importance of selecting sustainable products and provide practical tips on how to identify them to become conscious consumers.

a steel water bottle, a glass cup with steel straws and wooden cutlery, a wooden dish, a small container possibly for food storage or liquids, a mesh cotton bag with apples inside
Collection of Eco-friendly Marketed Products

Every product we purchase has an environmental impact, and we mean everything. Understanding this impact is crucial for making informed choices. Sustainable products are designed to minimize negative effects on the environment throughout their life cycle from start to finish. They are sourced using ethical and responsible methods, manufactured using eco-friendly materials, and energy-efficient processes then packaged in readily available and renewable material (if any). See the image above. Think about the life cycle of a wooden spoon compared to a metal spoon. I don't know about you but I am still using the same spoons from 20 years ago and I don't see myself needing to replace them anytime soon whereas a wooden spoon can splinter and break much more easily.

In order for a product to be deemed sustainable there are a few different aspects to consider. One of which is the life cycle of the product from raw materials extraction to disposal. Look for products that are designed for durability, reparability, and recyclability. Recycling is the last resort as we hope to reduce waste, reuse as long as possible, and recycle only when we have to. Avoiding single-use products and choosing products with a longer lifespan reduces the need for frequent replacements, ultimately reducing waste. Before disposing of a product try to repurpose it! You might be surprised by what other uses you can find with a little imagination.

The packaging and transportation of a product can significantly impact its sustainability. Look for products that use minimal packaging or packaging made from recycled, compostable, or biodegradable materials. This is a great first indicator of a brand's sustainable initiative. A simple example would be a water bottle with a sleek paper label around it versus being wrapped in shrink-wrap plastic or a big plastic box. Plastic packaging is often cheaper and easier to customize or access but it's typically not the most environmentally friendly choice. Another thing to consider is the distance the product travels to reach you, as transportation emissions contribute to carbon footprints. Support local and regional products whenever possible to reduce the environmental impact of long-distance shipping. Shopping as locally as possible also supports your own local economy and community business owners.

sign saying "thank you for shopping local" in a window of a store
Small Business owners appreciate you!

Unfortunately, not all "eco-friendly" products are trustworthy. There are however some ways to easily seek out a brand's true ambitions. Certifications and labels play a vital role in identifying sustainable products. Look for well-known certifications such as Fair Trade, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Certified B Corp, or MOFGA certified. These labels along with many more, indicate that the product meets specific environmental and ethical standards. Including them in your purchasing criteria ensures that you are choosing products with a reduced impact on the planet. These labels can tell you quite a bit, but know that there are certainly some brands out there doing great things that just haven't been able to seek these labels out like bigger companies.

Before making a purchase, research the company behind the product. Now companies seem to be more transparent about their sustainability practices, including their commitment to renewable energy, waste reduction, and ethical sourcing. Yes, some companies lie or embellish to sound more appealing but you're smart so use your gut. Visit the company's website and social media to look for its sustainability reports, mission statements, and environmental initiatives. Supporting companies with strong sustainability values encourages other businesses to follow suit.

By choosing sustainable products, we become active participants in the fight for a cleaner, greener future. With an increased awareness of sustainability initiatives, we as consumers can make more eco-conscious choices moving forward. Remember, every small choice matters, and collectively, we can create a more sustainable world.

group of people in a circle with focus on their hands meeting in the middle stacked on top of each other
We are in this together.

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