This is part of our ongoing series, called DTL (that stands for Down to Learn), where we take deep dives into the odd, nuanced and mysterious world of sustainability. Each article in our series should give you a good icebreaker for your next Zoom, or perhaps even inspire you. Today, a little discussion about shopping sustainably.
ICYMI, Goldune is turning 1 this month! We broke down some of the first things folks might be curious about when they get started shopping sustainably-- because there's a first time for everything, and we all gotta start somewhere.
Ok so…shopping sustainably?
Let’s get one thing out of the way: “sustainable” means a lot of different things to different people. What it means to you is… up to you! What are you passionate about? Where do you see yourself having bandwidth or room to make changes? Maybe you feel great about composting and opting for products you can do that with, or maybe you’re passionate about the emissions associated with shipping and freight, and you like to shop local or hit the farmer’s market on the reg. You define what works for you, so start there.
Some thought-starters to make that personal journey a little easier: we like to start by looking at how something was made (factory and production practices!) and how it got to you. If you’re a geek like us, you might think about packaging too. (Psst: this is why we give you all this info on our product pages-- to hopefully make it a little easier to figure out what works for you. No shame if something doesn’t work for you, or the more sustainable option is out of reach-- it’s a journey! You’re here, aren’t you?)
What about the actual product?
One of the most important parts of shopping sustainably is tuning into what kinds of materials and energies were used in creating our products (also called production processes). This is a biggie. Is this product made out of natural fibers (i.e., cotton, wool, linen), which can biodegrade (more on that below), or synthetic (i.e., plastic-based fibers like polyester) which will not? Was it made from recycled and/or upcycled materials? Was solar, wind, or hydro (water) energy used to make the product? What about fossil fuel energy (i.e., coal), which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming?
What happens when it’s kaput?
Lastly, where do our products go when we’re done using them (also called end-of-life)? Is this product biodegradable- able to be broken down naturally- or compostable- able to be broken down under certain conditions? Is the product recyclable? Is there a buy-back program or closed loop system in place, where the seller takes back the used item to be resold, repurposed, or responsibly disposed of? In an effort to save off chucking used products in the garbage, we like to keep our eyes peeled for ways to extend our products’ life and when it’s time to finally pull the plug, send them off to good hands or make sure the earth can handle ‘em.
Where do I start?
Anywhere! We believe sustainability is a spectrum, so becoming familiar with sourcing, production processes, and end-of-life won’t magically happen overnight. Look into one and ease into it! Wherever you’re most comfortable is a great place to begin: it’ll make habit formation a lil’ easier and a lot more likely to continue long term. The key is progress, not perfection!
Shopping and living sustainably is nonlinear: it looks different for everyone! We’re here to help and celebrate the small victories. Hope you’re down to learn a lil’ about shopping sustainably this month and ride out this crazy birthday train with us.