Spending dollars is like voting for the kind of world that you want to live in. Every time you give your money to a business, you’re telling that business that you like their products and that they should create more products like the one you’re buying. It’s important to make sure that you’re voting for the right products and the right businesses as often as possible. The good news is that more and more businesses are seeing the value in having a sustainable business model and are taking action whether it’s how the source their materials or giving back to their community. The bad news is that it can be hard to find out this information when you’re comparing two products on the shelf. Even some amazing companies don’t promote their actions as part of their marketing or packaging so it’s important to do your research ahead of time if possible.
One easy way to find those amazing companies is certifications. We’ve talked about organic certification for food products, but did you know there’s some cool certifications that businesses can get even if they don’t work in the food industry? One of the ones I’ve heard about is B Corporations. Businesses that want to get B Certified have to go through some rigorous testing to prove that they are taking steps to make the world a better place. There are over 2200 companies listed in their directory including Patagonia, gDiapers, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, Change.org, and Bullfrog Power. In Guelph, we have some really cool smaller companies that are certified. Take a look at the directory for your area and see if there’s any local B Corps that you can support!
Watch out for “green washing” though – this is becoming a more popular trend where not-so-good businesses will claim more than they are doing or sometimes try to cover up bad behaviour. Here are some good questions to ask before voting with your dollars:
What kind of materials are they using and where are they getting the materials?
Can you trace their materials or are they just being sourced through a third company?
How transparent are they … really? Is information available on their packaging? On their website?
Do they have any certifications?
Most importantly, do they have people available to answer these questions?
Again, our system of buying stuff doesn’t really allow for these types of questions at the point of purchase so try and get in the habit of doing your research ahead of time. Once you get familiar with some of the bigger brands that are sustainable, you’ll know what to reach for on the grocery shelf!