Eco friendly catering & packaging supplies, Eco-lifestyle products & Natural Home-wares

How we select eco-friendly products

How do we investigate products before adding them to our range?

We are committed to investigating the sustainability & ethical credentials of each product we stock. We want you to be able to shop with peace of mind, knowing that the products you buy from us are helping to care for a healthy world. So, how do we choose? When selecting green products, there are MANY different factors to consider. And it's important to realise that different people and businesses have their own 'algorithm' in regards to which factors matter most.To give a simple example, let's look at oranges. One person might ONLY want certified organic oranges no matter where they are grown. Another will ONLY want oranges grown in Australia with low food miles, even if they are not organic. Both criteria are important to the environment - yet each of these people might choose a completely different orange. So, it's important for you to know the process that we go through, and the criteria that we base our choices on. 

We go through a selection process with every product we are considering before we decide to stock it. We only add products to our range that tick the majority of the boxes for our environmental & social criteria. We consider many different factors, and make the best choices that we can with the options available to us.

Below, we'll explore some of the factors we consider and how we prioritise them.

Made from renewable materials

Made from renewable materials?

One of the main drivers of the sustainability movement is moving from making things from non-renewable materials (electricity from coal, plastic from oil, paper from old growth forest), to making things from materials that can be easily renewed, such as paper from recycled paper, disposable catering ware from sugarcane fibre, toothbrushes from bamboo, electricity from solar power. We always take the renewable resource aspect of a product into consideration, and give it very high value. 

Made from natural materials

Made from natural materials?

When looking at any possible new product, we'll always ask exactly what it is made from...natural materials are always best, specifically those that are also renewable. For instance, all of our catering ware is made from natural plant based products, plant based ingredients make up the entire Tri Nature cleaning and personal care range, and the vast majority of our products are made from natural materials. 

Made from recyclable materials

 

Made from Recyclable/Biodegradable/Compostable materials?

This includes whether the item is easy to recycle, and in what way. For example, something compostable is recyclable by the earth, which is the very best. Something recyclable by machines is ok. Usually this product will need to be made from one material to be easily recycled; for example it can be made of all glass. Or the different materials need to be able to separate out easily for recycling. We generally don't stock items that can't be recycled, unless they are extremely long lasting (think generations). 

Made from recycled materials  

Made from recycled materials?

This might mean that a product is 'upcycled'- made out of another material - such as our WozWaste wallets made from recycled inner tubes. Or it might be made from material reclaimed by recycling a waste product - such as Ecocern paper. Stocking and supporting the sales of products made from recycled materials is very important to us - it reduces waste, and creates a market for waste materials. Unless people buy products made from recycled materials, it is not worthwhile for anyone to recycled them. We also love that it stretches people's brains and starts them thinking about 'waste'as a resource, and the many ways we can make it valuable once more.

Round Table certified Palm Oil

Does it contain Palm Oil? If so, is it certified sustainable?

There's a fantastic article about Palm Oil HERE, written by the Biochemist who created TriNature 20+ years ago.  It explains all the ins and outs of using it, and which uses are causing problems. Small amounts used in personal care products are - he says - not the issue, it is the mass use of it in food stuffs and all manner of other materials that is creating huge problems. 

Very few of our products contain palm oil and if they do, it is in very small amounts and is ALWAYS certified 'Round Table Sustainable Palm Oil.'

Paper credentials

Paper credentials?

If a product we are considering has paper in it, we closely investigate what kind of paper it is. For us, the very best option is 100% post-consumer recycled fibre paper. This is paper that has been made from fibre that has been used at least once as a paper product. Another great option would be paper nade from something that is not trees at all - eg. sugarcane fibre or agricultural waste fibre.

Many people aren't aware that 100% recycled paper is made from the offcuts of wood during the processing of trees; it's better than virgin but not as good as post-consumer recycled. 

100% FSC paper is ok; it means it is made from plantation wood that has been sustainably managed.

Virgin paper is of course not even an option! 

You'll notice that I have written 100% next to a lot of these options; this is becasue sometimes manufacturers can be dodgy with their marketing...we always ask exactly what percentage of a product is FSC, or Recycled, or PC recycled......it might even contain only 30% FSC certified pulp and the rest virgin material, but is marketed as FSC. We learned this lesson early on and now ask very specific questions.

Fair trade certified

Fair Trade / made ethically?

Fair trade encompasses 10 main principles (Read more HERE) including fair pay, fair conditions and sustainability. 

We love products that are certified Fair Trade, because we don't need to do any more investigation as to the way they are made...however the process of becoming Fair Trade certified is expensive and time-consuming. If a product is not certified fair trade but the manufacturer can show that they have considered fair trade principles, we'll consider it. A good example is the Agreena wraps, made in Shenzhen China in a factory that upholds "Business Principles for Human Rights of Workers in China," a code drafted by the China Working Group to address human rights and labour rights violations. 

Country of Origin

Country of Origin?

People will often ask us 'but is it made in Australia'. Unfortunately, the answer is often 'no'. There are many reasons for this but the biggest by far is that because of low market demand in Australia, many things are simply not made here becasue it would not be financially viable for a manufacturer to do so.

Many of the small businesses whose products we stock try first to find a manufacturer here for their products, but eventually choose overseas production because otherwise their product will not be affordable and will not be taken up, which then defeats the purpose. For a while we had a Nappy range that offered two options - a nappy made in China using fair trade principles that cost $29.95, and one that was made in Australia that cost $39.95. You can probably guess which most people chose - not becasue they didn't prefer Australian made but becasue we all have to live with our own budget. 

When a similar product is made in Australia at a similar price (more is ok as long as it is not a huge difference), we'll choose Australian made.

Political considerations

Political considerations?

This is a tricky one. The perfect example is Soda Stream, which is manufactured in a factory located on the occupied East Bank. Some people think we should boycott Soda Stream, but after much discussion we have agreed that our MAIN focus is on products that help us live more sustainably, with less single use resources. If there was something similar to Soda Stream that we could replace it with, we would....but there is nothing even a little bit like it (we've looked), and therefore we prefer to stock it than remove it and leave people with no alternative. Again, this is an area where everyone's algorithm for sustainability may differ, and the best we can achieve is total transparency. 

Avoid single use plastic

Helps people avoid using single use plastic?

We are into basically anything that replaces single use plastic, such as reusable shopping bags, compostable bin liners, reusable food wraps, drink bottles, coffee cups and compostable packaging of all kinds.

Reusable and long lasting

Re-usable and long lasting?

Anything re-usable and long lasting generally get's a high score from us, unless it is made from something really horrible. Examples of re-usable and long lasting products we have chosen are Cloth Nappies and Menstrual pads, Re-usable fold-away shopping bags, Silicone covers for food, Wax wraps for wrapping sandwiches, stainless steel lunchboxes....the list goes on.

User friendly

User friendly - easy to use, and achieves it's purpose well?

When all is said and done....there's no point in stocking a product that is hugely eco-friendly but simply doesn't work in the way that people want / need it to. This is why we try things out ourselves, so we can be sure they work as well as or better than the conventional alternative. This one is really important to us - the last thing we want is for people to take a step towards sustainability and then get put off by a poorly performing product. This is also the reason that we always HUGELY value your feedback. We really want to know how well a product works for your home or business. Thank you!

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