Say you want to splurge on a mechanical keyboard, but the climate crisis stops you from hitting buy. You’re not alone in your reluctance.
According to one survey, 81% of consumers feel companies should improve the environment. They want brands to juggle convenience, price and awareness with the need to do good in the world.
81% of consumers feel companies should improve the environment. Vote with your wallet by buying from eco-friendly companies.
If you’re ready to commit to the challenge, learn how to buy from eco-friendly companies.
Seek Out Specific Claims
Did you find a gadget you love? If so, now is the time to read the fine print. Go through the website for information. The more specific the wording, the more likely it’s genuine.
For example, one company might say their products are sustainable. Another might say they manufacture products at a plant with a net-zero carbon process. It may surprise you how often brands try to bend the rules to appeal to consumers.
In 2009, Apple faced threats from the BBB due to calling its notebooks the world’s greenest lineup. Dell, who filed the complaint, argued Apple does not stand out in recyclability, reduced packaging, less toxic materials and increased efficiency.
Check for Real Commitment
Before you commit to a brand, do some research about their impact. Do they give back to nonprofit charities? Do they implement sustainable projects? Consider your values and look for a company that aligns.
Back in 1999, for example, Salesforce committed to a 1/1/1 charity model. They give one percent of employee time, product resources and profits to nonprofits. By 2015, they donated more than $90 million in grants. Plus, employees dedicated more than 1.1 million hours of their time.
Microsoft is another philanthropic powerhouse in the industry. Back in 2014, they donated tech equipment to more than 86,000 organizations. The company also reimburses employees for time spent volunteering.
Inspect for Certifications
It’s easy to get caught up in buzzwords when deciding what to buy. Hundreds of product labels exist in the U.S. — it’s challenging to know which to look for.
With electronics, computers, appliances and more, look for the Energy Star certification. The label is a blue square with a white star. Founded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), this certification guarantees products will reduce energy use and pollution.
Some consumer electronics come with an EPEAT label, which resembles a green checkmark. EPEAT is a global registry used by purchasers, manufacturers and resellers to promote eco-preferred products.
Look for Green Packaging
Online shopping is a great convenience. Yet it also uses a lot of materials. Each day, Amazon ships more than 13 million packages — around 5 billion per year. Consider the total number when you include other mega-retailers, like Walmart and Apple.
Cardboard boxes don’t have much impact. Other materials, however — like plastic bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts — don’t biodegrade. Plus, you can’t recycle them. To put package waste into perspective, it makes up 65% of all household trash. Consider how much money you can save with sustainable options.
Look for green or sustainable packaging when choosing brands, including:
- recycled paper
- organic fabrics
- plant-based plastics
- corrugated bubble wrap
Hemp, cotton and palm leaves, for example, can replace plastic bags. They biodegrade within 100 days, instead of 500 to 1,000 years.
Send In Your Questions
Some brands work in mysterious ways. If you can’t find the answers you seek, send an email and ask the questions yourself. Inquire if the company has data on their environmental impact. Talk about partnerships with charities and nonprofit organizations.
A trustworthy brand will offer transparency. The first red flag is no response. If you get a reply, what does it say? Do they offer concrete facts, or skirt around the question like a politician? After rumors about the quality of food at McDonald’s in 2014, for example, the brand created an “Our Food, Your Questions” campaign. Users submitted questions online, and the company addressed myths head-on.
A lack of details online doesn’t automatically translate to an untrustworthy brand. Yet most companies who invest in sustainable initiatives want to advertise it. After all, it’s good publicity.
Sustainability is the wave of the future. Consumers will no longer stand for massive energy consumption and substantial carbon outputs. If you’re ready to follow suit, use the guide above for buying from eco-friendly brands.
About the Author:
Emily covers topics in sustainability and green living. You can read more of her work on her site, Conservation Folks.
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