Updated: Sep 17
Figuring out what a product is made of, how it was made, and where it was made is a lot easier than it may seem. Depending on the product it could be as easy as reading the package, or at worst, emailing/calling the company.
It is easiest to figure out this information when ordering online.
All legit, non-scam e-stores will have an "about" section. This is where you can read about the company, their mission, and most likely how the products are made. Every e-store should also have an address either in their "about" page, the bottom of the site, or under "contact us". If you cannot find the information you need, simply call the number or email them with your questions. It is worth the wait to make sure you are getting products that are as sustainable as possible.
Here are some questions you can ask:
"Are your products made of sustainable, non-toxic materials/ingredients?"
"Are those materials/ingredients sourced locally?"
"How do you package your products? Is the packaging recyclable or compostable?"
"Where do you manufacture your products? Is that the same location you package them? "
I am young and don't have a lot of money. Many sustainable companies charge insane prices for their products, and although they are high quality they are excluding people with lower incomes from saving the planet. Here is a list of sustainable e-stores that I love and are worth every penny (I am not associated with or make any commission from these companies, I just love what they do)!
Waterlust: eco active/waterproof/swim wear. Every purchase donates to the item's related cause. Male and Female attire
4Ocean: all products pull a pound of trash out of the ocean and are made of that recycled waste. Most popular for their bracelets, but also have shirts, hats, bags, water bottles, and more. Unisex.
Sustainable Seed Co.: This company runs their farm on renewable energy, does not use herbicides or pesticides, and are certified organic. Although some of their packaging is plastic, they do a great job as keeping their products as sustainable as possible. I'm sure by just saying please, they will package your seeds as sustainably as possible. Not every brand is going to 100% perfect at sustainability, but if you see their are taking a conscious effort in the right direction, support them to continue.
I know I only shared 3 but I am constantly looking for more! Comment or message me if you have one that you love!
Shopping locally can actually be more difficult...
Are you shopping at a big retail store (Publix, Walmart, any chain clothing store, etc)?
A big retail store is one of those that you can expect to see in nearly ever city with the same products or name brands. The products at these stores, regardless of how "green" they are, are still being shipped thousands of miles to get there and have a huge carbon footprint. If possible, try to find a local (i.e. small business) to shop at. Click here to learn the importance of supporting local business.
If you do not recognize the brand or you know it has been made locally, you are probably safe to know it was made sustainably. If the materials are not listed on the product, give that number a call and just ask, they'll be happy to share with you.
If you are looking at a name brand, but want to choose a more sustainable product, simply compare the labels. The easiest way to decide is if you do not understand what something is, it is probably a synthetic material or chemical and you should avoid it. Like I said above, if you check the brand website and they are not completely transparent about their manufacturing process, you should avoid that brand, no matter how popular it is. For example, avoid fashion brands like H&M and Forever 21, read more about fast fashion here.