This year was the year that I really tried to keep my resolutions. I became much more aware of my role and influence as a consumer and not only that but vowed to be as conscious of one as possible. I won’t lie to you, it wasn’t easy and I failed often; slowly but surely learning along the way that in this product-driven age sometimes there is no right way to do things. You simply have no way of knowing just how effective certain sustainable business practices actually are and how to separate the wheat from chaff. As optimistic and hopeful humans we tend to assume that what large and even small companies try to sell us on is totally true, and easily succumb to the trappings of a product labeled as “ALL NATURAL!” even though we probably have our sneaking suspicions that it isn’t.
In my very humble opinion, what we do need to be is smart and savvy buyers. In an ideal and sustainable world we would buy less and reuse more, we would know about the latest green technologies and try our best to incorporate them into our lives, and we would be less concerned with instant gratification and possessing things we want rather than having the things we truly need. However, as Americans, and what is an increasingly Westernized global society, we don’t live in a culture that supports the “less is more” philosophy and so there are tens of thousands of new products being manufactured every day that make it around the world and back only to be laid to rest in overflowing landfills.
All of this to say that your power as a consumer lies in your ability to discern what products are worth buying. What is worth being in your life? What is worth your hard-earned money? And perhaps most importantly, is convenience and instant gratification so worth supporting greedy, callous, and unjust companies simply to have what we want and when we want it? Those are hard questions to answer, but I hope that the idea of redefining your identity as a consumer makes you feel empowered.
So to step forward into the new year, I’ve happily rounded up 5 different eco-friendly products I’ve discovered or made good use of (and loved!) in 2015 that I will so, totally be using more of in 2016.
1. MORE MULTIFUNCTIONAL PRODUCTS
I am a HUUUGE fan of design and technology because it brings us brilliant and beautiful things that help decrease waste and our need for more stuff. The Hile Kapu Coffee Scoop and Bag Closer functions as both a scoop and a bag re-sealer and is a perfect example of a product that makes use of a good and practical idea (and for some of us a necessity) and makes it beautiful.
2. MORE CHEMICAL-FREE COSMETICS
Formaldehyde is a known cancer-causing chemical that is found in so many beauty products. In nail polish it’s used as a hardener, which is complete and total B.S. Putting harmful and toxic carcinogens in cosmetics is akin to consuming it on a regular basis as if you were smoking a cigarette, not to mention it is a dangerous pollutant that is found in many household items in the form of a resin. RGB has created a beautiful line of toxin-free nail polishes that get the job done and keep you healthy and safe.
3. MORE INNOVATION, LESS PLASTIC
Because it’s so much fun (and how cute is this?) Boxed Water is Better has totally won me over with their eye-catching packaging design, commitment to making something sustainable from start to finish, and by creating a better and more mindful product that fills a need. Caps off to you, Boxed Water.
4. MORE PRODUCTS THAT AGE WELL
There are so many poorly made products on the market that have a brief shelf-life and only speak to trends that it makes something so beautiful and well-made as this Organic Fold Over Clutch by Thicket & Thistle pretty rare. Handmade with sustainable materials (organic cotton, natural beeswax to give it form, and acorns!) it’s something that’s meant to be used and loved for a very long time. Remind me why we need 25 handbags again…?
5. MORE TRANSPARENCY
I don’t know about you, but I feel a heckuva lot more comfortable spending $30-40 on a shirt when the company tells me where that money is going. Everlane is one such brand and they do it beautifully. These pioneers in the growing subculture of ethical fashion are completely open and honest about their production and manufacturing models and how they devised their price points. This type of business model only leads to more opportunities for sustainability and as Everlane has seen, more loyal followers and support.