As with so many aspects of ‘being green’, there is a lot of greenwashing about. This is when a product or a business tries to look better than it really is.
The only way to be really happy that you are choosing an environmentally positive option, is to do your research. Find out about who is selling that thing, and read reviews to check it really does what it says. Here are a few good starters for ten:
- Try to find independent reviews or testimonials about the product or idea.
- Look for scientific research, from a reliable source e.g. academic institutions with data to back up claims.
- Think about how the product will be used. e.g. wool is a beautiful, natural and sustainable product, however it’s 97% keratin. Keratin doesn’t easily biodegrade – so you can see the problem, if you delve a little deeper.
- Ask how the product is made. I recently came across a wonderful company making coffins out of recycled wood, which looked so good. But they also use MDF for the bases, and a really bad glue. That means they won’t be healthy for a burial ground, as those products are harmful. This mixing is a very common problem. There is more than one sort of environmental consideration, and when we think about products going into the soil, we have to look beyond the brilliance of just recycling alone.
- How long do you want the product to last? An urn that will be sat on a shelf for many years, might be made of a totally different material than one to be buried. Something being ‘fit for purpose’ might save a lot of money and resources.
- Ask what will happen to the product at the end of use. Can it be recycled? Will it bio-degrade? Is it reusable?
It’s only by really challenging producers that we will be able to use our collective consumer power to force research and products that meet these greater needs. Companies that are genuinely interested in the planet, who make strong green, ethical or eco claims will be happy to talk to you for hours about how marvellous their products are.
Companies that are greenwashing won’t like your questions, will have stock answers that are non-specific, may not have any knowledge of manufacturing or disposal of their stock. Never buy anything you don’t have confidence in.
Over time, I will add to the Resources file with any good products I come across, to save a bit of time on all the research! Do let me know of any you find too x