As sustainable brands are becoming progressively competitive, one’s validity may be questioned, especially in this increasingly skeptical world that we live in.
The launch of The Higg Index by The Sustainable Coalition couldn’t have arrived at a better time due to the fact that green-washing is being drowned out by the color blue.
Standards and certifications are becoming a key component to the legitimacy of many businesses. They help create a sense of ‘peace of mind’ in what consumers are consciously purchasing and investing in. Additionally, it helps reassure the customer that the business is in fact authentic. However, lately there have been many manufacturer recalls due to lack of responsibility and oversight in the industry. Reading some of the stories is quite shocking. Again, it is comforting to know there are checks and balances in place by a third party watching out for our benefit. In addition to all this, there is a value add when one becomes more conscience. This concept is difficult to quantify, but I am sure you have experienced this yourself; it is that gut feeling you get when supporting a farmer at your local farmers market, or ordering coffee at a local coffee shop where you are friends with the roaster and owner, or eating dinner at a local restaurant.
“I am, because I effect,” wrote Philosopher Erich Fromm, and Frances Moore Lappe, who recently wrote my new favorite books EcoMind, explains that when people gain a sense of control over their lives, they are able to acknowledge the implications of their actions and feel good about taking responsibility. She could not have said it any better! The most important fact is that without a proxy there is nothing to grow from or base any future progress on. When it comes down to it, these attempts in creating standards are in place to rebuild trust with you, the consumer.
That being said one can only imagine the many challenges that come with launching a standard for anything. One challenge a company may face is dealing with issues about fairness. Through my personal experience in working with local small-scale food producers and farmers, I’ve had the chance to see first-hand the competitive disadvantage they were dealt with when being placed next to a much larger farm that could afford the words “USDA Organic.” You can say the same about the classification of LEED certification on a building vs. an unmarked structure. Another critique worth mentioning is the fact that standards like the ones stated are in place simply to sway business owner decisions as well as the consumers. Unfortunately, this is being done blindly with no actual positive influence on ones understanding of ethics and stewardship, nor does it teach the understanding of what it means to truly be a responsible business. Now don’t get me wrong, the fashion industry surly has been in need of a holistic standard that creates a base to measure sustainable practices and progress for some time now, I am being transparent with the challenges and obstacles that business have to deal with. Staying true to one brand’s authentic self is essential for long term support and chances of overall success.
To sum this all up: With every purchase you make you vote on what you want our world to look like. You have the power to build communities, and tear them down. You must remember to live a life of meaning and intent, and pursue everything with a purpose. Consciousness is acknowledging your own power and the actual influence you have! Remember: “I am, there for I effect.”
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