What Does ‘Sustainably Sourced’ Mean?

What Does ‘Sustainably Sourced’ Mean?

You may have noticed the words “sustainably sourced” popping up on the packaging of all sorts of products. Chances are you know that it is a good thing — but what exactly does it mean? 

Being a responsible consumer is all about knowing the impacts your purchasing decisions have on the world. According to McKinsey, only 20% of companies reported that they consider sustainability factors when finding suppliers. This is why it's crucial to learn more about sustainable sourcing, why it is important and what to look for in a sustainable brand. 

You may not think of your beach towel as contributing to sustainability issues, but just one towel can do more damage than you might think. According to a report by the European Parliament, 35% of microplastics released into the environment come from textile production. That’s not all – about 10% of all carbon emissions comes from the production of textiles, clothing and footwear. 

Need an alternative? FiveADRIFT makes hemp and organic cotton beach towels perfect for a day soaking up the sun. A FiveADRIFT towel contains recycled and organic cotton, hemp and zero plastic. And 100% of proceeds goes toward cleaning up the ocean. 

Read on to learn everything you need to know about sustainable sourcing.

Defining Sustainable Sourcing

Sustainable sourcing is all about looking at a variety of environmental, ethical and social considerations to find materials that have the most positive impact possible. Just because something is made with less plastic and all-natural materials does not necessarily mean it is sustainably sourced. 

Here are some questions brands may ask when looking for materials:

– Does the supplier pay their employees a fair wage?

– How much water and land is necessary to process this material?

– Is this a non-renewable material?

– Is this material all natural, or does it contain plastic?

– What kinds of emissions are involved in the production of this material?

Using questions like these, brands can determine whether choosing a certain supplier would have a positive or negative impact on people and the planet. Human rights, environmental issues, financial considerations, material longevity and energy usage are only some of the factors that sustainable brands look at to determine whether a supplier is right for them. 

Examples of Sustainably Sourced Materials

Just about any material or product can be sustainably sourced if done the right way. These examples are some of the most common sustainably sourced materials:

– Organic cotton

– Hemp

– Recycled glass

– Soybean

– Cork

– Linen

– Recycled paper

– Bamboo fiber

Want to learn more about each of these materials? Check this out: What Are the Most Sustainable Materials to Look for in Eco-Friendly Products?

This list does come with a stipulation: These materials are only sustainably sourced if they follow proper social, ethical and environmental expectations. A product using soybeans is not sustainably sourced if the workers who picked the soybeans are getting paid less than a livable wage. If you’re not sure about a product, dive into the company’s website to see how transparent they are about their sustainable sourcing. 

Differences Between Sustainable, Ethical and Responsible Sourcing

Sometimes the words “sustainable,” “ethical” and “responsible” are used interchangeably when discussing product and material sourcing. But there is a difference between these types of sourcing:

– Ethical sourcing is more aligned with people and animals. Wages, worker health and safety, working conditions, treatment of animals and business practices are considerations of ethically sourced materials. 

– Responsible sourcing means a company has committed to “to take into account social and environmental considerations when managing their relationships with suppliers,” according to the International Chamber of Commerce.

These differences are not always easy to spot, but understanding them may help you decipher what brands mean when they use any one of these terms. 

Why Is Sustainable Sourcing Important?

When you choose a brand with sustainably sourced materials, you are choosing a better world. Here are some of the ways you make a positive impact when you shop sustainably:

– Divert plastic from the ocean and waste from landfills

– Decrease water usage for material processing

– Hold companies accountable for their actions

– Improve working conditions and wage amounts for laborers

– Encourage others to take the first step in conscious consumerism

– Decrease carbon emissions and deforestation

This list only scratches the surface of how you can make a difference as a sustainable consumer. 

Finding Brands with Sustainably Sourced Products

Locating brands with sustainably sourced products is not as easy as it may seem. Companies go through all sorts of trouble to make their product look like it is environmentally friendly when, in reality, it’s not. This is called greenwashing. Green packaging, all-natural materials and claiming to be environmentally friendly without proving it are all signs of greenwashing. Knowing how to spot greenwashing can help you avoid supporting companies that are not committed to sustainability.

At FiveADRIFT, we don’t hide behind green packaging. Every component of our towels has been thoughtfully sourced and manufactured to have the smallest environmental footprint while making a big, positive impact. 

Here are a few ways you can find sustainably sourced products and companies:

Environmental and Sustainable Certifications

Several certifications help consumers identify companies that are committed to sustainability. Here are two of the most rigorous sustainability certifications:

B Corporation. This certification is only achieved by companies that have proven they are dedicated to environmental and social ethics, accountability for all stakeholders and transparency in their supply chain and charitable giving. FiveADRIFT has a current pending B Corporation status to prove our commitment to our sustainability mission. 

Rainforest Alliance. The little green frog seal is awarded to businesses and farms that have gone through an extensive auditing process. This process looks at the environmental, economic and social sustainability standards of that business. 

Knowing that a company has been analyzed for its devotion to sustainable sourcing can give you the peace of mind that your money is going toward a company that cares. 

Statement of Product Sustainability and Impact

Transparency is key — companies that are serious about sustainable sourcing and ethical manufacturing will prioritize honesty. Always look for a statement of sustainability or environmental impact when practicing responsible consumerism. 

However, be wary of how things are phrased and check for hard statistics following any generalized claim. 

Check for any charitable contribution commitments — and make sure the charities are respectable organizations. At FiveADRIFT we donate 100% of our profits to Ocean Conservancy, Surfrider and Oceana. We are dedicated to our mission of cleaning the oceans and making a product that creates change. 

Want to know how a statement of sustainability should look? Here’s ours: FiveADRIFT Innovation and Sustainability.

FiveADRIFT: Sustainably Sourced Towels to Clean Up the Ocean

Brands that really care about sustainable sourcing will make it obvious. At FiveADRIFT, we don’t hide our love for the ocean and our commitment to sustainability. Our beach towels and tote bags are high-quality, environmentally friendly products with no unethical strings attached. 

Visit our website to purchase one of our incredible products or to learn more about what we stand for.
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