When thinking about sustainability and eco-friendly products, our minds often go straight to ingredients and materials. For example, depending on your own perspective and priorities you may wonder whether the product is vegan, whether it supports sustainable logging practices, whether it is natural, or whether it is plastic-free. When considering foods you may more often consider what is in season and how many food miles it has had to travel, but is this something that you also consider when buying other products? Often, the best ethical gifts have been made close to home.
How many miles have your products travelled?
In ordinary manufacturing practices it is not uncommon for products to be made quite a distance from where they are being sold. Think of all those ‘Made in China’ labels that you find on the products littering the shelves of the shops on your local high street. In fact, it is quite common for different components of products to be made in different locations, before being sent somewhere for assembly, and then to the retail location. All of these miles add up and can make a huge difference to a product’s carbon footprint. So, products that might seem, on face value, like the best ethical gifts on the market can quite quickly fall down the ranks when their manufacturing practices are examined more closely.
As a result, if you are looking for the best ethical gifts, it is often best to look close to home. Of course, this depends on a myriad of other factors too and it is always about weighing up the pros and cons of each individual product. However, if a product is being both manufactured and sold close to home, and calling itself sustainable, then it will likely have a lower carbon footprint than those sold further afield.
Furthermore, if a product is being made and sold close to home then this also means that you are supporting and feeding funds back into your local economy and likely supporting a small business at the same time.
‘Greenwashing‘ is a term that you may or may not be familiar with, but with ever more focus being placed on sustainability it is a practice that is becoming more common. ‘Greenwashing’ is when a business puts on a facade of being more environmentally-friendly than it really is, for example, emphasising one or two more sustainable practices the business is investing in whilst ignoring the many other non-sustainable practices they are also engaging in. As a result, it is important to know what to look for in terms of sustainability so you are not relying on businesses being entirely honest in their marketing. One of those things you can look out for is where it has been made and whether that is close to home.
Other Things to Look Out For to Find the Best Ethical Gifts
Besides being close to home there are other things that you can look out for in order to find a more ethical gift for the next occasion, or simply to treat yourself! Here at Valley Mist we are determined to be as open as possible with you about all of our practices so that you are able to make the most informed choice about your purchases.
1. Postage & Delivery
Of course, if you are in Lancashire then we have already ticked the ‘close to home‘ box for you, but if not then your order will be posted in entirely plastic-free packaging – not even plastic tape or glossy fliers! We are also even still handwriting all of our postal addresses to reduce the environmental impact of printing (paper, energy usage, even the delivery impact of the paper used for printing the labels – we’re determined!). However, it is also perhaps worth mentioning here that if you are local any online orders can also be collected from the shop free of charge. So, delivery practice is another thing to look out for if you’re ordering online.
2. Sustainable Packaging
Following on logically from postage practices, is the packaging of and materials used in the products themselves… Is there plastic? Is the packaging recyclable? Even better, is it recycled? Is it biodegradable? Are the materials sustainably sourced and how far have they travelled? At Valley Mist we are proud to say that all of our packaging is plastic-free and either biodegradable or recyclable (this is except for the optional pipettes with the facial and beard oils, and optional spray caps with the massage oils and airtight seals to reduce oxidation and prevent humidity damage). We also take great care to source product ingredients locally and sustainably, where possible.
Additionally, the empty containers of any of our products that are packaged in glass can be returned to the store where we will reuse the glass – keep your eyes out for more details coming on this soon! So many customers are already doing this, which is amazing and always brings us so much joy, so if you can bring your containers back to us, please do!
3. Cruelty Free
Finally, it is always worth checking if the product that you are looking at is cruelty-free. If the product is cruelty-free then this is generally advertised quite well on the products packaging. Here at Valley Mist all of our products are cruelty-free and you can have a look at my previous blog post for more details. If you are also looking for vegan products, then a large number of our products have also been certified vegan by the Vegan Society.
These are probably the best three things to look out for when trying to assess the environmental impact of a product: Where is it made? What is it made of? What are the companies delivery practices? What is it packaged in? Is it cruelty-free? All of these things should be quite easy to spot from a quick glance at the product and it’s label/description and should provide you with a good indication of how ethical and sustainable the company and/or product really is.
Supporting Environmental Charities
Furthermore, there are also another large number of indicators that might help you to spot whether a business is truly environmentally-friendly or just ‘greenwashing’, but to list them all here would make this a very long and detailed blog post – this post is intended as a rough guide, not a comprehensive handbook! However, another thing that we do here at Valley Mist to ensure that we are acting as ethically and sustainably as we can, is to donate 8.5% of the profits from our bestselling lip balms and candles to green cause charities; The Lancashire Wildlife Trust and The World Land Trust.
If you would like to shop our sustainable and ethical range of skincare and wellness products, please feel free to have a browse through the link below!