Are Smaller Companies More Sustainable?
When using the askBelynda plugin to find more eco-friendly alternatives, you may have wondered how we came up with the recommendations we provide. Did you know that behind the "Number of Reasons Why" we show, there is a real person with a passion for sustainability who has thoroughly vetted the company? That takes a lot of man- (and woman-) power, so we must prioritize. Though it's great to see larger companies jumping on the sustainability bandwagon, in the meantime, we are focused on bringing the smaller businesses to your attention.
Sustainable shopping made simple.
Here is why we love them so much:
SUSTAINABLE FROM THE START
"Sustainable from the start" is one of our criteria. Starting with sustainability in mind makes it clear that the company really has moral values. It also means that all their processes are set up as sustainably as possible. Let's take "ONNO – The T-Shirt Company" as an example: This Colorado-based enterprise was founded in 2006 with one simple idea: To make Good T-Shirts for the World. In the words of their founder:
"For me, Good T-Shirts start with eco-friendly fibers. They need to fit great and feel great. All the people we touch (factories, warehouse, office, shipping, and you) need to be treated well." - Jack Kanefield
FEWER PRODUCTS - MORE TRANSPARENCY
A company with only one kind of product – such as ONNO – can focus on making that one as sustainable as possible. And it keeps the supply chain and production simple, which helps with transparency. All ONNO T-shirts are made in one of two small, family-owned factories, one in China and one in India. On the website, you can see the people who make your shirts, and get to know why relocating a factory to a more rural area helps the work-life balance of employees.
NO SHAREHOLDERS – NO CONFLICT OF INTERESTS
Let's face it: profitability is the measure of success in big corporations. Any investment in sustainability is a strategic decision that needs to pay off in the form of increased market share. Let's call it “marketing for eco-conscious consumers”.
Now imagine an owner who founded a company with a clear vision. They don't have to justify the extra expenses of more sustainable practices; it is an investment in their vision. They can even afford to tell you an uncomfortable truth every now and then. Like this one: Even organic cotton yarn is only "somewhat sustainable" (because of the huge amount of water used in cotton production).
SOMETIMES LESS IS MORE
There is a multitude of certifications out there that companies use to support their claims of sustainability. (We know that, because we investigate all the certifications before we accept them as a credible "Reason Why"). However, keep in mind that going through the certification processes is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor and that often it's just more affordable for larger companies. So, if you see that a smaller company has fewer certifications than its bigger competitor, that doesn't necessarily mean that they don't meet the criteria.
For this reason, we don't rely on certifications, but also examine numerous other sustainability factors. Packaging materials, waste management, and carbon offset programs to name a few of them.
Curious to find out more? The next time you're shopping on Amazon and askBelynda pops up, click on "Reasons Why" to see the criteria we are vetting for.
And if you haven't a chance yet, and want to shop more sustainably on Amazon:
Want to learn more about our vetting process, check out our manifest.
Jennifer Scales is a photo artist and train travel enthusiast. When she is not vetting companies for askBelynda, she spreads her love for sustainable travel by capturing the beauty of nature seen through the train window.
Check out her website Landscape in Motion and follow Jennifer Scales | Fine Art on Instagram to see her artwork.