How to Tell if Something is Actually Sustainable

Woman in garden inspecting carrots

We’ve all been there... browsing a website that you got an ad for on Instagram or Facebook, absolutely enamored by that thing you were just talking about a few minutes ago. 

It’s so cute, and it’s such a good price... but was it made in a sustainable and ethical way?

You could spend hours researching a company and their practices, but the fact is, most of us simply don’t have the time.

That’s why we’ve put together a few quick and easy ways to help you feel good about who you’re buying from:

1. See what the company has to say for themselves.

Go to the website’s main menu and look for a tab that says “About” or “Sustainability” something along those lines. If you can’t find it there, try the footer menu at the bottom of the web-page.

If they don’t directly address their practices when it comes to sustainability and ethical manufacturing/fair labor practices, chances are that they don’t prioritize that.. or worse. 

Most companies that are truly making their best effort to be sustainable will tell you about it! Transparency is a very positive indicator.

how to find sustainability info

2. Read the reviews.

Most products have a review section at the bottom of the page. Look out for what people say about the quality. Low quality = red flag. 

excellent reviews

3. Do a quick internet search with the company’s name and words like “ethics,” “sustainable,” “sustainability” etc. 

Hopefully you’ll find articles written by third parties that can help you form your opinion. If there is nothing written about the company in question regarding sustainability (positive or negative), they may be too new/small to have gotten the attention. 

Sometimes doing the research can feel tedious and annoying, but it is so worth it. Every time you make a purchase, you are supporting something, so it’s important to know what you’re supporting. 

search engine

Be wary of ~greenwashing~

Some brands try to make themselves appear environmentally conscious with big, shiny, green marketing talk that is mostly just fluff. Greenwashing can come in many forms including, but not limited to: green and earthy looking packaging without actual healthy ingredients, flashy statements that sound great until you read the fine print, lots of talk of being sustainable without any solid claims or evidence. 

If you are suspicious about a company’s claims, and you have time to dig a little deeper, I encourage you to do so. An informed consumer makes better choices for themselves and the planet!

Listed below you’ll find a summarized list of positive indicators of sustainability and some red flags.

These aren’t all hard and fast rules, but in my experience, they are good guidelines. Most importantly, listen to your intuition and give yourself the space to research and reflect before you make a purchase. 

Positive Indicators:

  • Transparency
  • Third-party certifications
  • Affirming articles written by third parties
  • A website section dedicated to telling you about their sustainability/ethical practices with solid statements

Red Flags:

  • Low quality/bad reviews
  • No mention of sustainability/fair labor practices on website

1 comment

  • thank you! very helpful to


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published