Go Green Items’ Environmental Standards for Suppliers and Products
When we at Go Green Items say “minimum environmental standards” for our suppliers and products it is a bit of an understatement. This is because our standards are actually tough. We are not just looking for products with a vague connection to the “green” movement. Instead, we demand that suppliers and their products are responsibly made from start to finish.
We have several ways of assuring that this is just the case. For example, every product sold through our website is reviewed for its environmental impact throughout the entire product “Lifecycle”. We define this as a “cradle to grave” perspective that looks at four specific areas. These are: Source Material; Manufacturing; Usage; and Disposal.
We will discuss each area in greater detail in just a moment, but before doing so it is important to understand how these four issues add up to a solid environmental policy. They are a progressive series of activities that allow for true sustainability and eco-friendliness. Just consider; if a product is sourced according to positive environmental, labor, and quality standards it is likely to be used in a manufacturing facility that is also mindful of these things too. If the manufacturer is already concerned about impact and sustainability it is unlikely that they are making merchandise or products that are wasteful or harmful in their intent or use. Lastly, any business that has concerned itself with the three previous areas is not likely to make something that is dangerous or harmful to dispose of as well.
Now, this also means that we have to consider how we, as a business, provide access to these products while also upholding the same rigorous environmental standards too. For this reason, Go Green Items is also dedicated to creating a sustainable business (not just selling goods made by more responsible organizations), and to do this we keep our carbon footprint as small as possible, while also aiming to create zero waste.
Source Materials: All merchandise is made from something, and the ways in which these materials are harvested can often make the difference between eco-friendliness and eco-terror. Consider how many products use endangered exotic woods, petroleum, or chemicals…you will not see such things at our site. There are two key ways Go Green Items assesses the source materials that it accepts:
Are there any toxins? This is the most basic standard, and if there is a single prohibited toxin in the source materials then we won’t sell it. There are some minimal levels of some toxants that are acceptable, but even these will be heavily scrutinized and assessed for recyclability before making them available.
What are the raw materials and how are these obtained? If a material cannot meet the three following criteria then we refuse to sell it through the site.
Are the materials natural and organic?
Are they sustainably harvested or grown?
Can they be recycled?
The next part of the process has to do with the way our suppliers actually use the source materials. If they fail to meet our criteria at this point, even if they have excellent sourcing policies, we will not sell them.
Manufacturing –we assess the environmental standards of a product or supplier through a look at their manufacturing processes. For example, how and where is the manufacturing done? We want to know if the company is using many of the day to day business methods that we ourselves have applied. For example, do they participate in carbon offsets? Will they do all that they can to reduce energy and material waste? We use the following checklist of questions to truly gauge the acceptability of the manufacturing process:
Is there animal testing? – This is an arcane and unnecessarily inhuman process that we refuse to support in any way. If a product has materials that were tested in this way, or if the process of manufacturing the product demands animal testing, it will not make it to our site;
Is resource consumption at unsustainable levels? – If the manufacturing process consumes tons of water, materials, and electricity to the point that it has an adverse impact on resources, then it fails to pass our test. This is particularly true if the company also has no policies in place for sustainability or environmental friendliness;
Is energy consumption at a realistic level? – How much energy is required to make and ship the product? This is, obviously, a two-fold assessment that involves the products as well as the transportation and shipping. We look at the manufacturing process in this two-step manner to see if the supplier has actually applied all possible methods of reducing their energy consumption “across the board”. We also address if they are participating with a web host that is eco-friendly or if they work with a carbon offset company to become as “neutral” as possible.
What sorts of pollutants are created? Manufacturing inevitably creates at least one form of pollution. At Go Green Items we look at pollution from the perspective of how it affects air and water. This means we assess the manufacturing process to determine if the company is doing everything possible to limit, reduce, and counteract the pollutants generated by their processes.
What sort of packaging is used? – Manufacturers in line with Go Green Items’ principles will also use less traditional packaging materials. They must employ recycled (and recyclable) packaging, or that made from sustainably harvested materials if they are to be included in our website. If they rely on Cradle to Cradle SM Certification (or another similar system) then we know with absolute certainty that they are thinking about the impact of their manufacturing methods.
What is the company’s attitude about their customers, employees, the environment and the communities in which they are doing business? If we don’t see any sort of acknowledgement that a company is seeking to promote healthy living and respect for the environment through their many different relationships, we don’t normally sell their merchandise. It is only through innovation and commitment to the world around them that a modern business will become as earth-friendly as possible.
Next, we consider the way the product actually affects the overall environment. As already stated, if a company goes out of its way to obtain earth-friendly materials which are then used in an ethical manufacturing process, it is not likely that they will be putting a harmful product in the world. Go Green Items, however, will assess the usage of the product to be sure it meets their standards.
Usage – How, exactly, will this product be used to have a positive impact on the environment?
Our criteria include: Will it reduce or eliminate material consumption? Will customers be able to eliminate their use of other materials through the purchase of a specific product? For example, if they purchase an eco-friendly light bulb will it actually help them to reduce the amount of standard bulbs consumed?
Will the product eliminate garbage and waste production? When someone uses a specific product, will it allow them to avoid the creation of trash? For instance, will the purchase of a hemp coffee filter allow them to avoid somewhat toxic paper filters that end up in landfills?
Does the product keep (or at least reduce) the addition of toxins into the natural environment? Will the product help consumers to reduce the amount of toxic waste being created on a daily basis? For example, will the purchase of eco-friendly household cleaners eliminate a measurable amount of environmental toxins that would be produced through more traditional products?
Will this product help to reduce or even eliminate traditional energy consumption? We all want to get off the grid, and we want to sell products that truly reduce the amount of energy consumption in the average home. For example, will the consumer save energy by connecting the product to a home electronics device like a computer or television set?
Finally, we feel it absolutely essential to consider what the final impact of the product can be, and that includes the “grave” portion of the “cradle to grave” equation. This means that we consider how the disposal of any product will impact the planet.
Disposal – What is the proper disposal method and does it have a negative impact? When the active “usage” period of any product sold at Go Green Items has come to an end, we want to know how it will have to be disposed of, and what this means for the environment.
We have two mandatory criteria that include:
Biodegradable – Does a product “breakdown” naturally into eco-friendly materials? Go Green Items prefers to sell products that can be composted or which biodegrade into harmless materials after their useful life is over. We seek to avoid the necessity for landfills and incinerators and work to keep these sorts of goods off of the site; or
Recyclable – if something cannot be safely tossed into the compost pile, can it be recycled? If it can be, we also want to know the exact percentage that is recyclable because this translates to a wonderful amount of sustainability. Products that are non-recyclable and which cannot biodegrade are avoided at the site.
So, now that we have come to the end of the criteria used to determine if a product truly qualifies as “green”, we also spend some time considering a broader set of issues too. We do this to be sure we are remaining true to our commitment for total environmental awareness. Remember, while we want to be sure that everything is functional, eco-friendly and also sustainable, we are always going to view the concept of “fair trade” as tremendously relevant to the environmental standards we uphold too.
We at Go Green Items know that alleviating global poverty and promoting sustainability is just another step towards a healthier planet. Just consider that when it does not financially benefit a manufacturer to “cut corners” or use less Earth-friendly materials and production techniques, then they will stop doing so. This will translate to a much healthier environment and stronger communities.
There are many who understand that a decentralized way of life is going to lead to a healthier one. Even the United Nations has conducted studies that confirm that operations such as food production and farming are best done on a local basis in which the producers have a great deal of control over their output and can implement sustainable practices when possible. These are all of the reasons that we opt to include fair trade goods in our offerings whenever and wherever possible.
We also make a final point of opting for sustainable materials over all others. For example, we will always work with recycled over “virgin” materials as well as reclaimed materials over new. We will even elect bamboo over cotton or plastic, and stainless steel over any other metals because of its high recyclability.
Clearly we consider a huge number of factors when we assess a product’s or suppliers’ environmental policies. We uphold our very own customized standards as well, and all of these combine to ensure that we are meeting our mission to become “your most trusted source for green products, offering the widest variety of quality environmentally friendly products, the best information for consumers, and the most enjoyable shopping experience.”
We really do believe that the ultimate power to make long lasting change lies in the hands of modern consumers. The shopping choices you make each day are one of the strongest ways to create a global difference. When you buy truly green merchandise you are improving your own health, as well as that of the planet. When ever larger groups of consumers are offered these choices things will only continue to improve for the better, and that is the one sure way to make the world a greener place again.