It's a great buzzword for modern brands, because it's supposed to evoke images of forward thinking people, investing in quality products that simultaneously make your life more convenient while also saving the planet.
So who defines what a sustainable product is? And what's a true sustainable practice? And how guilty should you feel when you use a plastic straw or get your take-out in a Styrofoam container?
Let's hold off on the eco-guilt for now and I'll go over my Big Three for determining whether something that is marketed as eco-friendly is also truly sustainable.
1. Is It Do-able?
The first thing you should consider when someone is calling a product or practice "sustainable" is, can you even make this a part of your life? Is this a habit you can keep up or will is be a huge inconvenience? Will your family go along with it or will it be something that gets a lot of push-back?
My best example of this concept would be when I brought up using "family cloth" with my husband. That's re-usable wiping cloths for the bathroom. There are a whole host of benefits to using cloth over paper or wipes, number one of which is probably that you waste zero paper and they can be cleaned just like cloth diapers can, which we were already using at the time for our son. But my husband's answer? NO! A big fat no, because the thought of cleaning the wipes grossed him out too much. This sustainable idea wasn't it for us. And for this concept, It really comes down to how easily you can apply the product or practice into your life. Making a difficult integration process for a product makes it UN-sustainable, because the likelihood of use becomes very low.
2. Is it Functional or Durable?
My favorite example of a questionable sustainable product is The Paper Straw. Re-usable straws in general are really do-able, because they replace the original product the exact same way. But paper straws do something you never want your straw to do, dissolve. Ever given a paper straw to a three year old? It's like watching the paper recycling process up to the point where the paper becomes a mushy wet blob, except it's in their mouth. Functionality is absolutely key when deciding if something is truly sustainable. If it just sits around your house because it can't do the job you needed it to, it's almost as wasteful as whatever it was designed to replace.
3. Is is Affordable?
The best for last. Eco-friendly can unfortunately also mean expensive. A lot of contributing factors being that the manufacturing processes for many sustainable items aren't as streamlined or aren't as established as our plentiful plastics are. Material costs can be high for things like hemp fibers when compared to less eco-friendly cotton, and that makes it less available to lower income demographics. Investing in a set of silicone snack and sandwich bags can cost over $10 A BAG. Sure the product will save you money over the years you will use it. But when you have a seriously tight budget and you need multiple bags for multiple days for multiple school/work lunches...you're looking at a $100+ up-front investment, making those vastly cheaper plastic bags the only reasonable option. More affordable options for sustainability could be washing your plastic bags after each use, saving deli-meat containers, re-using butter tubs or plastic take-out containers. It's still plastic, but it's also still re-use.
Sustainability isn't about fitting a singular, perfect ideal where you only wear natural fibers and drink loose-leaf tea while driving your brand new Tesla. It's a flexible concept that can fit anywhere you are able to make space for it.
Zero waste chef, Anne-Marie Bonneau, said "We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly".
I couldn't agree more.
You can make do-able, functional, and affordable space for sustainable skincare with our minimalist product line. As many of us across the country are opting to stay in to stay healthy, you can also enjoy our (always!) free shipping.
Shop our line of products for the face here.