We know that the whole topic of sustainability has become a complicated thing. It is no longer only about saving the planet. Companies are using this topic to sell more, or they are “greenwashing” their brands. So nowadays, how do you know if a product is sustainable? We selected 3 ways to find out.
These are 3 methodologies for assessing environmental impacts, they are some of the most effective, popular, and widely use ways to achieve sustainability and fight greenwashing.
3 Ways To Tell If A Product Is REALLY Eco Friendly
1. Analyze the Life Cycle of the product you are buying: Life cycle assessment or LCA
as its name explains is the analysis of the life of a product from its creation until its disposal. Which means that it takes into account, everything, from the moment the raw material is extracted, its production and manufacturing process, packaging and distribution, the length of life that the product will stay with the customer, until its end of life.
There are NGOs and labels who work on assessing the life cycle of a product, but even just as an exercise of the mind, you can try to calculate the life cycle of the product you are buying.
This method uses one product as a benchmark, to determine the sustainability of its kind. However, it is only a way to measure HOW sustainable a product is, not whether it is sustainable or not. Because sustainability is a negotiation into achieving a better system, not a better product 😉.
This means that LCA can be very helpful to find ways to make products less harmful to the environment. Isn’t it great to answer how do you know if a product is sustainable?
2. Take into account that sustainability is not only about the product but also about the company: The net green approach
the net green approach is not as popular as the LCA, but we want to include this concept here. This method not only takes into account the impact of a product’s manufacturing or life, but also the sustainability of the business activities.
As a consumer this approach might be difficult to grasp, however, it underlines the issue of only measuring the material processes of a product. So, think of the net green approach as the little voice in your head that asks: the activities around creating this product affect the environment?
If you know that the product you are buying is made of recycled plastic and has a degradable packaging, but you don’t know about their employees; or you even have heard that the company pays low wages to their workers. This is an activity that is not sustainable for the planet, because the company is not thinking about their overall impact.
So the net green approach is useful for us to remember. that behind a product there is a lot of work, that also has an impact on the planet.
3. Pay attention to a Carbon Neutral label, it can be a good sign 😉
Carbon Neutral This method is very popular and easy to understand. A company calculates the amount of carbon it produces. Then they find a way to compensate this damage. For example, a company’s activities pollute water, they calculate this damage and invests enough money into a project of water purification. In this way they bring their activities to neutral, the damage their activities cause, is compensated by cleaning water and supporting other people’s jobs.
The easiest way to know if the product you are buying is Carbon Neural might be with a label. If they don’t have this label, you can always ask what the company is doing to compensate their carbon emissions. Bear in mind that this method is very popular among big companies, small businesses struggle to survive themselves before they can support other projects. But supporting a small business can mean that in the future they will be able to support other projects too 😉.
These 3 ways to answer our question on How do you know if a product is sustainable? are our favourite methods to help you know more about sustainability. They are useful to know more about a product and a company, but they do not make any product or service “good” for the environment. Therefore, if you are still curious about sustainability, check out our next blog:
Should I buy sustainable or eco-friendly products?