Quick Guide Sustainably sourced environmentally friendly ethically sourced

A Guide to Terms – Sustainably Sourced, Environmentally Friendly, Ethically Sourced and more

Navigating Activated Charcoal Product Manufacturing Practices – What does it all mean?

It’s a jungle out there when it comes to understanding skin and body care product manufacturer claims. Amongst other things, the companies behind the activated charcoal product brands you love often say their products are sustainably sourced, environmentally friendly and ethically sourced. What do these terms actually mean? C&B has pulled together a quick guide of terms to help you navigate the market.

Hand batch and small batch processing

Those making products in small or hand batches means that they likely own the process of production from start to finish. That is, they develop the product and create the product themselves. This ensures that there is a high level of quality and craftsmanship in every stage of the process. In the context of skin and body care products, those who commit to hand batch or small batch processing are extremely passionate about their products.

What’s in it for me?
You will most likely be supporting small companies; that is, the little guy. This usually gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling. By the time the product reaches you, it also often means that you are getting a product that is as fresh as possible. You may have to pay a little more for each product though – a lot of companies outsource the manufacturing of their products to cut costs.

From an innovation point of view, small batch processing allows the company to experiment with slightly different ingredients and mixes based on customer feedback and product reviews.

Here’s a couple of products that we love that are made in hand or small batches:

Dr Squatch Pine Tar

Fig and Yarrow Clay Mask

Environmentally friendly 

This term can mean a whole range of things. Sometimes it means that the manufacturer uses recycled paper and other packaging materials such as recycled glass. It might also mean that the manufacturer reduces its carbon foot print by making the product in just one or two places. Manufacturers are not always clear about exactly what those environmentally friendly commitments are.

What’s in it for me?
For some people it is very important that they are purchasing products from companies that are serious about their environmental responsibilities. If that’s you, then you will feel a lot more comfortable buying a product from a company that has a significant environmental conscience. It is sometimes difficult to tell exactly which aspects on a companies’ business are “eco-friendly” but smaller companies often share this information on their website or on their product packaging. Make contact with your favourite product manufacturer to ask what specific steps or initiatives they are taking to be environmentally friendly where this is not clearly stated.

Ethically sourced and produced

This usually means that the products are sourced or created in facilities by workers who are treated well and who are being paid fair wages for the work they perform within legal hour requirements (this may vary from country to country). Of course there are many different phases of a product’s development. Sourcing, creating, packaging and transporting are all key phases of the process – kudos to those companies committed to ethical practices in each of these stages.

What’s in it for me?
Let’s face it. It’s enticing to purchase products that are cheap. Media coverage over the last few years has shone a light on unfair work practices and low (to no!) wages for those who work to create products. It’s big business for many companies to drive down costs and line the shelves with super cheap products for consumers worldwide. By supporting companies that declare their sourcing and production practices, you can enjoy the product you have purchased without guilt about the unfair conditions imposed on those who have been involved in creating, packaging and transporting those products to shelves (whether they be virtual or physical) for you to buy.

C&B loves Laila London Activated Charcoal Tooth Whitening Powder which is sustainably sourced on fair trade terms:

Laila London Activated Charcoal Tooth Whitening Powder

Locally sourced

This is a term used by companies in relation to how they source the ingredients for their products. The catch with this phrase is that there are no agreed or monitored measures of “local” in many countries. Locally could mean they were sourced in the same town, the same city or indeed the same country. We applaud those companies who are looking to locally source ingredients especially where their interpretation of “local” is down the road or within the same town.

What’s in it for me?
Assuming that the “local” environment has some great ingredients on hand, you will likely end up with a fresher product. It will also likely mean that the company manufacturing the product are supporting other local businesses in their community. This “shop local” mentality is very important to some and you stand to feel great about your locally sourced product choice if this is the case.  You won’t feel so great if however, the company’s version of “local” is in another country to you! Make contact with a manufacturer if you want to know exactly what “local” means to them.

Biodegradable packaging

This refers to the ability of materials in the product to be broken down and returned to the earth. In many countries, to qualify, the packaging products or materials must completely break down and decompose into natural elements. The timeframe for this to occur is usually short – typically across a year or two but there is no regulation in place to stipulate the exact timeframe that must be adhered to.

What’s in it for me?
Surely this goes without saying. There is something very satisfying about buying a product that you can use and then literally pop the packaging into the pot of your favourite plant. A 100% recyclable process can be the most satisfying purchase you can make.

We love these activated charcoal toothbrushes by Pearlbar which are biodegradable:

Companies committed to many of the processes referenced above often times are just as serious about producing vegan friendly and cruelty free products with certified organic or natural ingredients.

Stay tuned for another post with a simple guide to those terms soon. C&B.

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