So you’ve decided you’re ready and able to start supporting ethical and sustainable brands. But with so much information available on the internet, where is the best place to start? What do you focus on? Whether a product can be recycled? How a brand treats their workers? Longevity of the products?
Here at Atlys, we’ve developed a comprehensive rating system that ranks brands and companies based on a variety of ethical and sustainable criteria that fit under 3 main categories: People, Planet, and Animals.
People – Ethical Brands Building Up Their Community
It’s definitely important that the people involved in the production of the goods you’re buying are treated well, with good working conditions and fair pay. Read on to see some different elements to consider next time you shop.
Many companies won’t make any mention at all about how they pay their workers, so if a brand is transparent in this area, that’s already a great step forward. A good example of this is the clothing brand, Tonlé. Unlike many clothing and apparel brands, Tonlé also offers a more detailed view into who exactly is producing their products and the fair wages they’re paid for their work. No sweatshops here!
Tonlé is also a great example of a company making strides in working conditions for their employees. We gave them a high rating in this area due to how they’ve defined their working conditions, listing off various benefits including vacation packages, free meals, training opportunities for rising to management positions, and team retreats.
Equality for Marginalized Groups
Another element of a brand’s impact on people that we like to consider is whether the brand or company is actively in support of marginalized groups and promoting racial and gender equality. While this is an area that has been left quiet for some time, brands are starting to step up and speak out in support of inclusion and equality. Even some of the biggest companies are responding to causes such as racial equality, as described by this Forbes article.
There are so many ways that a brand can impact the planet – from the materials they use in their products, to their packaging, to the usable lifetime of their goods, to their energy use and emissions. That’s a lot to consider when shopping! Luckily, our directory of rated brands makes it easy for you to find brands that align with your values.
One element of a brand’s impact on the planet is whether they contribute to any charities that are helping the environment or other, ethical causes. Dorsal Bracelets is a great example – they donate 15% of all profits on a monthly basis to organizations that protect the oceans, either through coral restoration or plastic cleanup. 1 purchase through Dorsal equals 1 pound of trash removed from the world’s oceans – now that’s a brand that’s doing something right.
Sustainable Shipping & Packaging
How a company is shipping and packaging their products makes a big difference for the earth as well and is important to consider when shopping sustainably. Washed Ashore, a jewelry brand, is making strides in this area. They’ve chosen to package their jewelry in a reusable pouch made from recycled cotton and produced in the US with US-sourced materials. The display cards for their jewelry are made of 100% recycled paper. Their shipping mailers, labels, and even tape are completely recyclable as well. Washed Ashore also offsets their shipping-related carbon emissions by donating to the CarbonFund Foundation.
Materials and Resources
Another important element in the sustainability of a brand is the materials used in their products, as well as how they manage the resources they’re using up or depleting through their production or business practices. Cadence is a brand built off repurposing waste from an existing industry – portable personal care containers. The on-the-go personal care industry currently relies heavily on single-use plastic containers that quickly end up in landfills and unfortunately, the ocean. Cadence developed the Capsules to solve this issue – they’re reusable, dishwasher safe, long-lasting, and made from 50% recycled plastics that come from ocean cleanups and scrap materials from the brand’s own production.
Product lifetime is a term we use here at Atlys to refer to a brand’s focus on creating products that last a long time, in order to help consumers create less waste overall. Cadence is a great example of this, as well. Through extensive testing during the invention of the Capsules, the brand has created a personal care storage solution that can be used again and again and is easily cleaned and non-leaching. They’re also incredibly durable – Cadence even tested them by dropping them off of a 2-story building. The brand also has a closed-loop recycling system. Although the Capsules are designed to last a long time, if a customer ever wants to get rid of one, they can send it back to Cadence for free to be recycled into a new Capsule.
Energy Use and Emissions for Sustainable Brands
Another factor to consider when shopping sustainably is how a brand deals with their own energy use and emissions, for example, carbon emissions. While many companies that care about sustainability are starting to offset their carbon emissions by donating percentages of their profits, it’s another thing when a brand is completely carbon neutral. Askov Finlayson is an outerwear company that is committed to completely offsetting their impact on the environment. They call this being “Climate Positive” and do this by giving 110% of their carbon footprint. This means that not only are they carbon neutral, but that they’re creating a positive impact for the earth by giving that extra 10% to outside organizations working to combat climate change. That’s a way of doing business that we love to see!
You might be thinking that it’s great for a brand to be good for the planet, but what about its impact on animals? Here at Atlys we consider whether and how a brand uses animal products. Brands that avoid animal products entirely are great, but we also consider whether a company utilizes animal products that are sourced in an ethical manner.
UnHide is a brand that is dedicated to transforming an industry that very reliant on animal products – the fashion industry. UnHide sells fluffy, furry blankets for the home – all made without a single animal-sourced product. They’re on a mission to prevent the sale of real fur products in the US by offering quality alternatives. Because of this, we gave them a great rating in this area!
Now that you’ve read more about all the various elements to consider when shopping ethically and sustainably, why not head over to our directory and start browsing! We’re continually adding new rated brands across various industries to help you shop with a clean conscience.