Joining the Sustainability Movement is Easier than You Might Think

January 17, 2024

How to Look Beyond the Label to Become an Informed Consumer

Every purchase decision we make leaves an imprint on the world. It's not just about what we buy, but the story behind each product: how it's made, what it's made of, and the impact it has on our environment.

In many cases, making the right decision is complex—which makes it even more difficult to do the right thing. Terms like "eco-friendly" and "green" are becoming a standard in today’s society, but what do they truly mean? 

It's important to understand that not all products labeled as green are created equal. Some may use these terms for marketing without understanding or adhering to environmental standards. As consumers, it’s important to learn to differentiate between genuine sustainable practices and those that unfortunately fall short. In doing so, we’re forever changing the trajectory towards a more sustainable existence. 

How to Make Informed Choices as a Consumer

As consumers become more knowledgeable, and regulatory bodies more stringent, the hope is to create a global market where sustainable practices are the norm. This shift is essential not only for the health of our planet but also for the integrity of our markets and the trust we place in the brands we support.

Here’s the good news: In an era where information is at our fingertips, making informed choices about what we buy is more achievable than ever. It's about looking beyond the alluring packaging and delving deeper into the essence of the product. Here are a few steps you can start implementing immediately.

Research the Company's Manufacturing Practices

  • Look for companies that are transparent about their manufacturing processes. Do they share detailed information on their websites?
  • Check for environmental certifications like ISO 14001, Energy Star, or Fair Trade. These can be indicators of a commitment to sustainable practices.
  • Many companies publish annual sustainability reports. These can provide insights into their environmental initiatives, energy use, waste management, and more.

Utilize Online Resources

  • Start with the brand's own website. Look for dedicated sections on sustainability.
  • Understand which product ingredients or elements are renewable versus non-renewable..
  • Environmental blogs and forums can be rich sources of reviews and discussions about the environmental impact of manufacturing processes, products, and reuse or recycling.
  • Look for unbiased third-party reviews and reports from environmental watchdogs or consumer advocacy groups.

Engage with the Community and Experts

  • Join social media groups or follow pages focused on sustainable living. These communities often share insights and experiences with different products and brands.
  • Don't hesitate to contact companies directly with questions about their products. How they respond can tell you a lot about their commitment to transparency and sustainability.

Lean Into Continuous Learning and Adaptation

  • The world of sustainable products is always evolving. Keep yourself informed about new developments, technologies, and standards.
  • What's considered sustainable can change over time. Be open to adapting your purchasing habits as you learn more.

By adopting these practices, consumers can play an active role in promoting sustainability. It's not just about the choice of product, but about supporting the ethos of transparency and responsibility in manufacturing.

Exploring the Detriments of “Greenwashing”

Greenwashing is often labeled a “deceptive” marketing tactic used by some companies to falsely portray their products or operations as environmentally friendly or sustainable. This can range from misleading labels and exaggerated claims to hiding the less sustainable aspects of their practices. 

There’s a deeper story here. Many companies are actually trying their best to build an eco-friendly brand, but they may not have all the pieces of the puzzle complete. This may be due to lack of resources, lack of knowledge, or lack of communication among different departments within an eco-focused business model. 

No matter the case, the concept of greenwashing has multiple implications. The following represent just a few of the issues consumers, as well as the sustainability movement, may encounter.

Misleads Consumers

Greenwashing capitalizes on the growing consumer desire for environmentally friendly products. When companies make unsubstantiated or misleading claims about the sustainability of their products, it becomes difficult for consumers to make truly informed choices. This deception not only erodes consumer trust but also undermines the efforts of genuinely sustainable brands.

Stifles True Environmental Progress

Companies that employ greenwashing create a false impression of environmental progress and can divert attention and resources away from genuine sustainable initiatives. It allows these companies to gain an unfair market advantage without making any real commitment to environmental responsibility.

Dilutes the Meaning of Sustainability

With so many products labeled as green or eco-friendly without substantiation, these terms can lose their meaning. This dilution makes it challenging for consumers to identify truly sustainable products. Furthermore, companies that actually adhere to green standards suffer from the mixed messages.

Induces Economic Implications

Consumers may be willing to pay a premium for products they believe are more sustainable. Greenwashing exploits this willingness, potentially leading consumers to spend more on products that do not deliver on their environmental promises.

True Green-First Efforts in Action

At Planted Materials, our promise to promote sustainability isn’t just lip service. One of our major goals is that our forward-thinking and transparent approach in the consumer manufacturing sector will become a standard, not an exception. Planted Materials’ consumer products division, Green Water Labs, exemplifies the fact that we are “walking the walk” towards a more sustainable and environmentally conscious industry.

The level of transparency and dedication to using recycled plant waste not only sets a high bar for environmental responsibility but also underpins both of our companies’ commitment to reducing the ecological footprint of chemical manufacturing. Net-net, we are paving the way for a future where consumer product manufacturers prioritize sustainability and transparency as core business values.

To learn more about our collaborative efforts, please make sure to stay tuned to our website or follow us on LinkedIn.