Thanks to a few new apps, it’s getting easier to know how to find sustainable brands. It’s becoming more important to many of us to learn about the sustainability of what we buy, and how companies impact the environment. Not only whether packaging and material is sustainable, but their devotion to social well-being too. Ethics and fair manufacturing methods come into question as many brands pay only pennies to laborers who are forced to work in dangerous conditions.
All of these apps are in different stages of development. At the moment, true fashionistas will probably need an arsenal of them to find the best in sustainable fashion, as no one has it all covered.
The app opens with your camera, ready to scan barcodes on just about anything as you walk through the store. From sustainable food to fashion. It allows you to find out more about products; like who manufactures them and where that company stands on a variety of issues. It gathers information from news sources, non-profit watchdogs, and other unmentioned third parties give you an idea of how each company scores on issues like the environment, animal testing, GMOs, sweatshops, and LGBT rights.
I tested it out on a few things I had laying around (mainly food, surprise surprise).
Oreo – How did they score? A middling 54%. Not too bad, though not stunning.
Kleenex – Owned by Kimberley-Clark. Scoring a bit higher at 74% overall and 60% on environmental issues.
Coca-Cola Co. – Coming in at 57%, it is listed as one of the top 50 most innovative companies according to Fast Company, and scores 66% on the environment.
Tom’s of Maine – Coming in at 63%, Tom’s gets the approval of Peta and Leaping Bunny for being cruelty-free. Hitting 71% on the environment.
It’s important to remember that due to lack of info, some smaller companies might be rated lower unfairly. And some, like one of my favorites, Wise Chips, doesn’t score at all. Here’s another example:
Sonora Mills Foods – Maker of Pop Chips, a non-GMO product, scores only 35%. I don’t think this means Oreo is more trustworthy. It means research hasn’t been done, and obviously larger companies that have been around a while will attract more scrutiny, have more money to spend, and more accumulated data.
This slick app features ethical clothing brands and creates ratings by culling information from independent projects like Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Fair Trade, and OKEO-TEX; combining it with their own research into brand reliability and mission statements. They’re judged in several categories—from what chemicals they use and how by-products are disposed of, to their impact on the supply chain.
You can set your preferences by choosing which issues you care about the most: labor, animal welfare, or the environment—on a sliding scale of less important to very important.
Search a brand or browse all the categories you would expect to find in any shopping app (they’ve even got one just for ties gents). Then sort by style, gender, rating or price.
Once you’ve found a company you love you can view their rating, read their profile describing in detail their mission and ideals, view similar brands, add them to your favorites, even leave questions and feedback.
You can find shops that sell your new favorite brand on this screen, then switch to the offers tab and see if there are any sales in your area.
Start by choosing whether you’re shopping for men’s or women’s apparel. You then have the option to browse a shopping gallery, search for a specific item, or use your camera to snap favorites and find similar styles. It also has a voice search feature and allows you to save new discoveries to a wishlist.
They promise featured brands are committed to transparency, using sustainable fabrics and dyes while compensating employees fairly.
Similar to Good On You this one is still in early development, so it doesn’t have many brands loaded in yet. But there are a few sustainably minded companies I haven’t heard of, so it’s worth keeping an eye on as they expand.
You have to create an account for this one, but they do not require your phone number. Search by choosing categories that are important to you: social impact, certifications, and environmental impact.
Ethical shopping can sometimes take a little extra research, but it’s great fun and so much more rewarding. Here’s to a more sustainable shopping experience!