What Makes a Product Sustainably Sourced and Why It Matters

Updated: 19/04/2023
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As consumers, we have the power to shape the world we live in through our purchasing decisions. With the increasing awareness of the negative impact of fast fashion and the rise of the zero waste movement, sustainable shopping has become a popular topic in recent years. But what does it mean to shop sustainably?

It's not just about buying eco-friendly products or reducing plastic packaging, it's also about supporting ethical and transparent practices throughout the supply chain. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of sustainable shopping and its benefits to help you make more conscious choices when shopping.

At forward2me, we not only help you discover sustainability-focused brands that you can support but we are also committed to sustainability and reducing the environmental impact of our parcel forwarding service with a number of initiatives that aim to reduce our carbon footprint. We engage in recycling to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills and we offer parcel consolidation services to minimize transportation emissions.

Read on to find out more about buying sustainably sourced products and how parcel forwarding can help you make your shopping more environmentally responsible.

What Is Sustainability?

In recent years, sustainability has become a buzzword that’s used everywhere from fashion to food to energy. But what exactly does it mean to be sustainable, and why is it so important?

    At its core, sustainability is a conservation concept which is meeting the needs of the present for services and resources without affecting the condition of  the eco-systems that provide them. This means creating a world that is socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable, where people can thrive without depleting resources like clean air and water or wildlife or harming the planet in other ways.     

Pillars of sustainability

Social Sustainability

Social sustainability is about creating a world where people are treated fairly and equitably, and where everyone has access to basic needs like food, water, and healthcare. This means working to eliminate poverty and inequality, promoting human rights, and creating opportunities for all.

Economic Sustainability 

Economic sustainability refers to practices that support long-term economic growth where businesses can thrive without the harmful environmental trade-offs that may harm people or the planet. This means promoting responsible business practices, supporting local economies, and investing in sustainable technologies and infrastructure.

Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability is about achieving an an ecological balance where we can live in harmony with our planet's natural environment and support the wellbeing of current and future generations. This means reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting biodiversity, and conserving resources like water and energy.

What Does Sustainably Sourced Mean?

"Sustainably sourced" refers to the practice of obtaining natural resources in a way that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This means that the sourcing process should be environmentally responsible, socially equitable, and economically viable.

For example, sustainably sourced timber would come from forests that are managed to ensure the preservation of the ecosystem and the rights of local communities, while also being economically profitable. Similarly, sustainably sourced seafood would come from fisheries that use methods that protect marine biodiversity and prevent overfishing, while also supporting the livelihoods of fishing communities.

A product is sustainably sourced when the raw materials used in its production are obtained in a way that does not harm the environment or deplete natural resources. Some factors that contribute to making a product sustainably sourced include:

  • Responsibly sourced materials: The raw materials used in the product should come from sources that are responsibly managed and harvested, ensuring that the natural resources are not depleted or degraded.
  • Ethical labor practices: The production process should adhere to ethical labor standards, ensuring that workers are treated fairly and receive adequate pay and benefits.
  • Environmentally friendly manufacturing: The manufacturing process should minimize waste, pollution, and energy consumption, and use renewable energy sources where possible.
  • Packaging and transportation: The packaging and transportation of the product should be designed to minimize waste and reduce the carbon footprint.
  • Certification: Products that are certified by recognized organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Fair Trade USA, or the Rainforest Alliance have been independently verified to meet certain sustainability criteria.

Which Industries Are Focused on Sustainability?

Industries that are most likely to be sustainable are those that have the potential to minimize their negative impact on the environment and society while supporting economic growth. Some of the industries that are leading the way in sustainability include:

  • Renewable energy: Renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind, and geothermal power, have the potential to reduce carbon emissions and minimize the use of non-renewable resources.
  • Agriculture: Sustainable agriculture practices, such as organic farming, agroforestry, and regenerative agriculture, can help protect soil health, reduce water use, and promote biodiversity.
  • Sustainable fashion: The fashion industry is adopting sustainable practices such as using recycled materials, reducing waste, and using eco-friendly production methods.
  • Green building: Sustainable building practices, such as using energy-efficient materials and designs, can reduce energy consumption and minimize environmental impact.
  • Transportation: Sustainable transportation practices, such as electric vehicles and mass transit, can reduce carbon emissions and promote cleaner air.

Any industry has the potential to become sustainable if it adopts practices that promote environmental, social, and economic sustainability. 

Industries focused on sustainability

Sustainability in Food Production 

Sustainable sourcing of food has become increasingly important in recent years as people have become more aware of the impact of food production on the environment and society. Sustainably sourced food is obtained through practices that do not deplete natural resources or cause harm to the environment, economy, or society in the long term.

  • Organic and regenerative farming: Organic farming practices are designed to minimize the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, which can harm the environment and human health. Regenerative farming goes a step further by improving soil health and sequestering carbon, thereby mitigating climate change.
  • Responsible fishing and aquaculture: Overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices have led to the depletion of many fish populations. To ensure sustainable seafood, look for labels such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), which certify that fish and seafood have been responsibly harvested or farmed.
  • Reduced waste: Food waste is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. To reduce waste, buy only what you need, store food properly, and use up leftovers. Buying from vendors that prioritize reducing waste can also help.
  • Fair labor practices: The food industry has a history of exploiting workers, from farm laborers to restaurant staff. Buying from vendors that prioritize fair labor practices can help support workers and create a more equitable food system.

Sustainability in the Fashion Industry 

Sustainable fashion is a movement that aims to promote clothing that is produced and consumed in an environmentally and socially responsible way. The fashion industry is one of the largest polluters in the world, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and waste. Here are some key factors to consider when looking for sustainable fashion:
  • Quality and durability: Sustainable fashion prioritizes quality over quantity. High-quality clothing lasts longer, reducing the need for frequent replacements and reducing waste.
  • Sustainable materials: Sustainable fashion uses materials that have a lower environmental impact. This includes organic cotton, linen, and hemp, as well as recycled materials like polyester, nylon, and wool.
  • Responsible manufacturing: Sustainable fashion takes into account the entire lifecycle of a garment, from production to disposal. Responsible manufacturing practices prioritize reducing waste, minimizing the use of hazardous chemicals, and ensuring fair labor practices.
  • Circular economy: A circular economy approach to fashion involves designing clothing that can be easily repaired, reused, and recycled. This reduces waste and extends the life of clothing.
  • Secondhand and vintage: Buying secondhand or vintage clothing is a great way to reduce waste and support sustainable fashion. It extends the life of clothing and prevents it from ending up in a landfill.

What About Sustainable Packaging? 

Sustainable packaging is a type of packaging that is designed to minimize its environmental impact while still providing protection and functionality. It aims to reduce waste, conserve resources, and promote environmental sustainability throughout its lifecycle, from production to disposal. 

Sustainable packaging can involve practices such as:

  • Using recycled materials: Sustainable packaging uses materials that are recycled or can be recycled after use, such as paper, cardboard, and bioplastics.
  • Minimizing packaging: Sustainable packaging aims to reduce the amount of packaging used while still providing protection for the product.
  • Biodegradable and compostable materials: Sustainable packaging uses materials that are biodegradable or compostable, such as plant-based plastics, to minimize waste and promote sustainability.
  • Reusable packaging: Sustainable packaging can be designed for reuse, such as refillable containers or boxes that can be returned for reuse
  • Efficient transport and distribution: Sustainable packaging considers the transport and distribution of the product, aiming to minimize the environmental impact of shipping and logistics.

Organizations That Promote Sustainability 

Organizations that promote sustainability

There are numerous organizations that promote sustainability and work to advance environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Here are a few examples:

  • United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs): The UN SDGs are a set of 17 goals aimed at promoting sustainability and addressing global challenges such as poverty, inequality, and climate change.
  • Greenpeace: Greenpeace is an international environmental organization that works to promote environmental protection and sustainability through research, lobbying, and public awareness campaigns.
  • World Wildlife Fund (WWF): WWF is a global conservation organization that works to promote sustainable practices and protect biodiversity through research, education, and advocacy.
  • The Nature Conservancy: The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization that works to protect the planet's biodiversity and promote sustainability through science-based solutions, partnerships, and policy advocacy.
  • Sustainable Business Network (SBN): The SBN is a New Zealand-based organization that promotes sustainable business practices and aims to create a sustainable economy through education, advocacy, and collaboration.

These are just a few examples of the many organizations that promote sustainability and work towards a more sustainable future. You can support their causes by donating money,  buying their official merchandise, or purchasing from brands that work with such organizations and donate percentage of your purchases. 

Consumers’ Attitudes Towards Sustainability

According to a recent survey by Accenture, 60% of consumers worldwide say they're more likely to buy from environmentally conscious brands. Additionally, the same survey found that 62% of consumers want companies to take a stand on social and environmental issues. 

Another study by Nielsen found that 66% of global consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands. These statistics suggest that consumers are increasingly interested in sustainable products and are willing to pay a premium for them. 

How Parcel Forwarding Can Help You Shop Sustainably 

If you're trying to shop more sustainably yourself, here are a few ways in which using parcel forwarding can help you educe the impact of your shopping: 

Find and support sustainable brands: Parcel forwarding services allow shoppers to access a wider variety of products, including those from sustainable brands that may not be available in their country. By supporting these brands, as shoppers, you can make more environmentally conscious purchases.

Choosing eco-friendly shipping methods: Our partnerships with the leading shipping comapnies let consumers choose from different shipping options so they can prioritize eco-friendly options. 

Consolidating shipments: With our parcel forwarding service, shoppers are able to combine multiple packages into one, reducing the overall carbon footprint of shipping and packaging waste.

forward2me also offers all customers free returns from our warehouses, reducing the cost and environmental impact of returns. Find out how our service works here and make sure you check out our shopping center where you will find more ideas on shopping sustainably as well as sustainable brands that you can start supporting. 

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