If you read this blog consistently, you will probably notice that my process of implementing sustainability into my life is slow, organic and imperfect. I have gotten sucked into companies that were greenwashing by not doing enough research. There are some things (like spending hours trying to find a factory a t-shirt was made in) that I just haven’t committed to implementing into my buyer’s journey just yet. Becoming a conscious consumer is not a perfect switch, and you are not going to be able to do everything all at once. I believe that you should not feel shame for not doing enough. Instead, feel pride that slowly but surely you are erasing a consumer mindset that has been embedded into your brain. This is not an easy task. This is why I try not to shame big name brands that are implementing sustainable practices. If those brands are creating baby steps and testing the waters of this industry I want to encourage this growth. And if they are the reason why you have started your journey into sustainability even better. Brands such as Tom’s of Maine, or H&M’s conscious collection are accessible and a less expensive option. Here is why I think we should support brands such as these instead of shame and shun.
They are watching how consumers react
Being a business major, I am learning how businesses think. And the reality is that almost everything is quantifiable and about numbers for big businesses. How and why are things performing the way they are? If a company such as H&M releases a conscious collection that generates a lot of revenue what does that say to the business? It implies this is what the consumer wants and where the profit lies.The industry will follow the money and hopefully continue to invest more and more into ethical practices if they see positive feedback. How are we going to change major fast fashion companies if we boycott and shun them? By supporting baby steps and convincing them that this is the future, businesses will hopefully be more likely to implement changes.
It is accessible to more people
Sustainability can often be viewed as a privilege. Often ethical companies are more expensive for someone that can only afford brand name products. And if your solution is “just make it yourself” I personally refuse to convince a single mom of three kids working three jobs to make her own DIY soap. This industry still doesn’t have all the answers on how to reach people in different age brackets, financial backgrounds or various disabilities. But if Tom’s of Maine deodorant is on sale at Target and you grab that instead of a big name brand I applaud you! It is a step up from using a product that is toxic to your health and the enviornment. Just because brands such as Tom’s are owned by unethical parent companies (Colgate-Palmolive owns Tom’s) doesn’t mean they are necessarily an evil company. Look back at opinion number one. Companies are curious, they are testing the waters and seeing if this new mentality and ethos is here to stay. Buying products such as these, while an imperfect solution, might be more feasible than either making your deodorant or ordering an all natural-compostable $20 product.
I want to be clear. These opinions are all my own OPINIONS. They are biased and lack decades within the industry knowledge. If you can buy used of secondhand always take that route instead of purchasing new products if cost is a limiting variable in your ethical journey. My opinion is imperfect, my sustainability journey is imperfect, and these companies are imperfect. The Peahen has a great article about the many faults to H&M’s Conscious Collection that has a lot of great insights. There is a very fine and complicated line between imperfect steps into sustainable practices and greenwashing that I truly don’t have all the answers to yet. BUT I think intention and progress are important and valuable, and I consider any improvement in the right direction (no matter how small) a win. I believe we should support businesses and consumers efforts into sustainability no matter how big or small.