March 31 2021
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 fun new announcement about something Team G is rolling out.
Okay, let's get one thing straight: like a lot of things that our society treats as binary, we actually think sustainability is more of a spectrum.
You might have seen us shout this from the rooftops on our new sustainability hub, and you might have noticed that we added a sustainability spectrum with a rating to each and every product page on our site (whew!). Wondering what "sustainability" means to us, or how we define our spectrum? You're in the right place-- we're going to break it down.
Here's that spectrum we were talking about. Our team describes it as more of a "rainbow squiggly worm," because the journey from start to complete sustainability is anything but linear. To make things a little simpler, we designed a thermometer style sustainability barometer that "is" linear, however fun the rainbow squiggly worm is.
Here's the sustainability spectrum we use for each product page-- a little simpler, right? We wanted to create something that felt clear, but left space for some of the beautiful, complicated, nuance that comes along with developing sustainable products. We do our best, but inherently, creating sustainable stuff at scale is pretty complex for both manufacturers, and regular folks trying to shop thoughtfully.
That spectrum above with the line down the middle marks the "neutral" part of our scale. This means that a product falls somewhere between "Super Sustainable" (our A+++, totally stuck the landing, 10 out of 10 ranking for products) and "Good But Getting Better" (our baseline for products that are definitely more sustainable than the norm or their UNsustainable counterparts, but have some room to grow-- and are workin' on it).
Wondering what constitutes "neutrality" in the center of that spectrum? Generally, we use this ranking for products that are pretty sustainable, but may require less sustainable packaging (like a recycled glass cup that requires a bit of recyclable bubble wrap to ship safely, chips made with upcycled food waste that come in a plastic bag or an organic cotton tampon with a plant-based applicator that comes in a virgin plastic wrapper). It's the middle ground between good and stellar.
Speaking of stellar, let's go down that road, shall we?
This side of our spectrum ("Super Sustainable"), is what we strive for in all our products. Generally speaking, the products that make our "Super Sustainable" spectrum rating are most, if not all, of the following:
- Compostable (ideally in your at-home compost bin!)
- Recycled or upcycled
- Circular or closed loop
- Sustainably sourced
- Made or manufactured with clean energy
- Any emissions associated with production have been offset responsibly
We really love to see it. If we're ranking something at this end of the spectrum, you bet we're beyond psyched about the brand and the team.
Let's take a stroll down to the other end of the spectrum, shall we?
This is the lower end of our spectrum. Don't be alarmed-- even if a product or brand gravitates towards the end of the spectrum, it still met our baseline sustainability standards, which are pretty rigid, and still meets a certain level of sustainable innovation. Trust us, we pass up on a lot: "recyclable" products or packaging on their own don't make the cut. Neither does "plant-based" as a default. No shade to recyclable packaging or plant-based snacks, but we don't feel comfortable calling those things "sustainable" without more context about emissions, production, manufacturing, sourcing, supply chain, or end of life.
TLDR: even if an item is on the lower end of the spectrum, it still made the cut where many others didn't. Sometimes brands that are on this side of the spectrum are in the process of reformulating their product, or redesigning their packaging for an even lighter footprint, which we love. After all, aren't all of us "Good But Getting Better" most of the time?
Want to go deeper? If you want more info, you can get it-- just click the "End of Life" or "FAQ" drop downs underneath the sustainability spectrum to learn a lot more about a brand, a product, and its lifecycle.
All in all, we want to make it quick to understand where a product falls on the sustainability spectrum without minimizing the nuance that goes into sustainable product development... or shopping sustainably! Got a question about a product or want more info than we shared on the product page? Try us. You can shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, or click on the message bubble in the lower right hand corner of the screen to chat with someone on our team.
Happy spectrum-ing! We can't wait to hear what you think of our new POV on sustainability.