TRANSPARENCY: How transparent is the company about sourcing materials? Take a pass on purchasing from any company that is not transparent about where their materials came from.
MANUFACTURING LOCATION: Where was the product made? Western Europe has the highest standards for ecological issues. USA and Canada are close behind. Countries like China and India are not generally focused on these matters. So products made in Europe and USA are typically the most reliable when it comes to sustainability.
LABOR: Who made this lovely item you are contemplating? When it comes to labor laws, Europe and USA are pretty good. In some parts of the world though forced and child labor still exists. The Bureau of International Labor Affairs tracks this globally, see here.
MATERIALS: What materials were used in the product? Are they organic? GMO? Upcycled? Petroleum based? Recyclable? Polyester for example is a synthetic petroleum-based fiber; think of it as the king of non-renewable, carbon-intensive.
SOCIAL IMPACT: It’s possible to be ethical and stylish and useful. Ethical brands will have their house in order on the topics above and likely have a social give back component as well.
PACKAGING: Is the packaging recycled/recyclable? Plastic and styrofoam are red flags for climate crusaders.
RETURNS: What is the return policy/warranty? Does the company stand behind their product? As a model of a great return policy have a look Eagle Creek.
END OF LIFE: Any idea how to dispose of this product when done? Anything that can be composted or recycled is best.
Big thanks to our friends at BRANWYN, a company with sustainability at the heart and deep roots in climate conscious supply chains. You might even want to listen to our podcast with Jeff Shafer, BRANWYN’s Chief Empowerment Officer!