Hello to all you eco-conscious shoppers! During your journey towards a more sustainable way of living, have you ever felt overwhelmed by the jargon-filled world of sustainable shopping? Have you ever asked yourself “What does FSC Certified mean?” or “What does it mean if something is ethically made?” Well, worry no more! In this article, Sustainable Shopping Made Easy, I am going to explain some of these eco friendly buzz words you may come across while shopping in store or online in order to help you make informed purchases.
Lets start with FSC Certified. You may have seen FSC Certified on a range of wooden or paper products and it stands for Forest Stewardship Council. They are a non-profit organisation whose mission is to create responsible forestry by ensuring forests are managed in an environmentally friendly, socially beneficial and economically viable way.
By choosing FSC certified products, you will be helping to protect wildlife habitats, support local communities, and combat deforestation. So next time you’re shopping for that special piece of wooden furniture or even a notebook, look out for the FSC logo!
Fair Trade Certified
Next, we have Fair Trade Certified. If you purchase a product with the Fair Trade Certified label then you can be sure you are supporting a more equitable trade system. Fair Trade works with the global community; farmers, workers, supply chains, brands and retailers to ensure they pay fair prices and uphold fair production standards and practices. So it ensures no child labour or exploitation of any person or community.
In choosing Fair Trade products you’re making a positive impact on peoples lives around the world by empowering farmers and artisans to earn a living wage and improve their communities well-being.
Now this phrase can be used as a general term when referring to sustainable products. When something is ethically made, this means that in the production of this product, there has been little or no negative impact on any society, human, animal or environment. Ethical brands aim to minimise their environmental footprint and ensure fair treatment of workers.
However, the term ‘ethically made’ can have a wide range of definitions attached to it depending on the brand and the company. For that reason, I would recommend reading a company’s policies and background and checking if these align with your values before deciding to make a purchase.
Now I love searching for artisan products when looking for that unique piece for my home. And if you’re into unique, handcrafted products, then ‘artisan’ is the term for you! But be careful! The term ‘artisan’ is not regulated so anyone can claim to be an artisan. The dictionary definition of artisan is;
1. A person or company that makes a high quality or distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods.
Items produced in this way often represent cultural heritage and provide a more personal touch than mass-produced items. When you choose to support artisans you contribute to the preservation of traditional crafts and help support local communities. As with Ethically Made products, I would suggest checking out an artisan’s policy and background to determine if they align with your values before making a purchase.
This is a word you have probably come across whilst navigating the world of sustainable shopping. When a product of material is labeled as biodegradable, it has the ability to break down naturally through biological processes into harmless substances. Unlike plastics which take centuries to decompose and leave a harmful legacy, biodegradable materials break down in the earth and leave no harmful substances behind. Choosing biodegradable options reduces the burden on landfills and minimises pollution in our oceans and soils.
However, as suggested earlier, it is important to be discerning when it comes to claims of biodegradability, as some products labeled as such may only do so under specific conditions (like high heat for example). Organic cotton, linen, hemp, peace silk and bamboo are completely biodegradable. By opting for biodegradable products, you are a participating in natures cycle of renewal.
Last, but not least, we have ‘organic certificate’. Products that have this certificate have been made without the use of harmful chemicals, pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Now what usually springs to mind when we think of the term ‘organic’ are food products but there are also homeware products that carry the ‘organic certificate’ too.
Organic farming practices prioritise soil health and biodiversity, which means their products are kinder to the environment and safer for you. By choosing organic, you’re not only supporting sustainable agriculture, you are also protecting your health from potentially harmful substances. So next time you go shopping, look out for the organic stamp.
Now you are armed with the knowledge of these eco-friendly labels, you might be wondering where to start and how to put this knowledge into action.
First of all, remember that you don’t need to go all out and start replacing everything in your home that isn’t sustainable and doesn’t qualify for any of the terms above. It will be much more sustainable to hold on to what you have until your items come to their end of life and need replacing.
Remember, being a sustainable shopper is a journey and not an overnight transformation. When you browse the isles or scroll online remember you are using your purchasing power to support brands that align with your values. In choosing sustainable products from FSC-certified wood to organic products, you are nurturing a brighter future for all.
Celebrate your efforts and stay curious about new ways to make a difference. One small purchase at a time will take you in the right direction and if we are all taking it one step at a time. Together, we can turn sustainable shopping from a trend into a way of life and we can make the difference required to protect our beautiful planet.
If you have any comments about the information above or would like to share any purchases you have made using the labels we have talked about, please leave a comment below.