LYMB's 2021 Guide to Sustainable Shopping
Trying to navigate eco-friendly living while also keeping up with the ever-changing world of online shopping can make for a very confusing ride. How can you tell if a product is right for you? Will it live up to your environmentalist goals and expectations? How do you know if it's really “green?”
More customers than ever are drawn to the eco-forward incentives that many companies are promoting today. Sales of sustainable consumer goods have risen by over 20% since 2014. Interestingly, ninety percent of millennials said they are willing to pay more for products that contain environmentally friendly ingredients. How do you know if what you're buying is actually sustainable?
Greenwashing is when a company uses environmental verbiage in their marketing to make consumers think that they are doing more to protect the environment than they actually are.
Some companies have boasted claims of environmentalism by selling biodegradable pseudo-plastics targeting those who think avoiding plastic is the answer to our waste problem. Disposal limitations surrounding these items are rarely if ever disclosed. These products need to be processed in a facility equipped to handle their unique composition otherwise they are just as detrimental as regular plastic when littered. This is just one of many examples of the misleading verbiage used in countless instances of greenwashing seen throughout our consumer space. These false marketing claims draw in unsuspecting consumers with a misrepresentation of what it means to truly help our Mother Earth.
Love Your Mother Boutique (LYMB) is combatting this misinformation by helping you to understand what to look for on your journey with eco-friendly living. In this guide, we will give you some great options for sustainable shopping and we will cover environmentally friendly information about:
- Ethical sourcing
- Cleaning products
- Beauty products
You can consider this to be a starter manual where you will discover tangible ways to reduce waste and improve your eco-footprint without being misled by flashy buzz-words and sleazy marketing. Having this primary understanding of what makes a product sustainable and environmentally friendly is the starting point you need to really make a difference in your zero-waste mission.
What does that even mean? How do you know if something was sourced ethically? Who can validate these claims? Sustainable Jungle says that a product ought to contain ingredients that are cruelty-free, non-toxic, vegan, and palm oil-free to be considered sustainable. This is where it becomes our job, as consumers, to weed out the phonies.
Many reputable companies are relying on organizations such as Climate Neutral, Foundation Myclimate and members of the Global Ecolabelling Network to legitimize their claims of sustainability which makes the treasure hunt a little bit easier. These companies are also usually the ones who transparently take part in the best environmental business practices toward environmentalism. This primarily includes ethical sourcing, thoughtful packaging, resource and waste management, as well as charitable giving. These are just a few high-ticket items to look for when making your choice in where to invest your hard-earned money.
Small businesses are actually making some of the biggest impacts on creating a more eco-friendly way of doing business. Their incentives are often not based on the bottom-line but rather on our moral responsibility to do what we can to preserve our planet. Across Canada, companies like BKIND, Lovefresh, The Market Bags, Buck Naked Soap Company, and Tru Earth have made leaps and bounds in the sustainability market which is why they hold an important place on the shelves at LYMB. By buying close to home, we can share in the true environmentalism of our neighbours while keeping our local economy thriving.
Choosing eco-forward cleaning alternatives tends to raise questions about the quality of sanitation that comes with organic ingredients. Yet still, a multitude of products on the market greenwash their labels without actually having the natural active ingredients required to enhance cleaning properties.
Legitimately green cleaning products are equally as effective as conventional options.
In order to take the mask off of the greenwashed products to find what really works in a sustainable way, you need to be committed to doing a little bit of research. Find out which renewable plant-based surfactants are biodegradable, free of harmful chemicals, and ethically sourced. Then, read the labels carefully and choose the product that fits into your eco-lifestyle the best.
One of the most important factors for cleaning agents is their biodegradability. Many of our products get into our waterways when we wash our dishes and clothes. LYMB wants to make sure that the products you choose are going to break down quickly so that they don’t negatively affect the environment and creatures living there. Small habit changes can make a huge difference in how we help or hinder our Mother Earth.
In 2018, Zero Waste Week asserted that over 120 billion units of non-recyclable cosmetics packaging were produced globally. Yet, surveys have shown that the majority of women using these products consider eco-friendly incentives to be important to them. Consumers have repeatedly said that when a product uses minimal, recycled, refillable packaging for their beauty needs, they are more likely to purchase.
In fact, if cosmetics were to use refillable containers, carbon emissions associated with the beauty industry could decrease by as much as 70%. (LCA Centre)
In addition to considering the impacts of the packaging that your cosmetics come in, you will also want to look into the company’s ingredients and manufacturing processes. Lose the harsh chemicals and other harmful ingredients like microbeads (which are not allowed to be produced as of 2018). Leading industry standards include never testing products on animals and using renewable energy to manufacture the products as well. When all of these standards add up, you will be met with the best eco-forward skincare products to use daily.
LYMB offers a variety of minimally packaged, sustainable, compostable options for your beauty routine. Hop in the bath or shower with all-natural soap, shampoo, and conditioner bars while relax and moisturizing with bath bombs, body scrubs and polisher. Switch to an eco-forward toothbrush and toothpaste tabs along with a gentle, natural deodorant. Easy, eco-approved beauty can be easy to find with the right amount of insights into the world of environmental marketing.
A third of product packaging in Canada is made up of single-use plastics and, due to limited facilities, only 9% of that is actually recycled. Encouraging companies to make the shift away from single-use plastics is up to the consumer. Our buying power dictates company production choices so we need to show how eco-alternative products and packaging can actually increase sales by expanding customer reach and boosting brand loyalty.
Making direct product packaging also lowers overhead costs by minimizing the storage space required for merchandise. Less space is required per item, allowing space for more selling units; win-win! With so many people ordering their goods online, choosing shipping materials that are environmentally conscious will have a huge impact on customer support. Due to the inherent lighter weight of alternative eco-friendly options, shipping rates will often decrease as well.
“Recognizing the importance of our planet’s dwindling natural resources - or perhaps the economic opportunity that that creates - the green industry seeks to meet the demands of today without compromising the needs of tomorrow.” (Franchise Help)
Investing in the green industry means contributing to a generation of successful companies that are aimed at having a negligible (or even a beneficial) impact on the environment. They make sustainability a vital part of all aspects of business planning and growth through minimized production of harmful chemicals, excess materials, and waste byproducts.
Whenever possible, focus on the first two Rs of sustainability: Reduce and Reuse. Avoid single-use items (plastic “conveniences”) and make the most of what you already have. Only then should you move onto the final Rs that incorporate disposing of items correctly through recycling and composting whenever possible.
It’s our responsibility to hold brands accountable by reading labels, demanding sustainable packaging, and making educated decisions about where you invest your money. Recognizing and avoiding companies that greenwash their products with misleading marketing tactics is a fabulous start for sustainable shopping but you can make a difference before you even hit the ‘add to cart’ button.