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  • Writer's pictureMax Showalter

The Importance of Sustainable Sourcing

Updated: Jan 25


A glass globe laying on a grass lawn.

Sustainability doesn’t begin and end with your recycling bin. It’s crucial to make sure the products you buy and the practices you implement are sustainable all the way up the chain. A huge component of that is sustainable sourcing. But what is sustainable sourcing exactly? According to GEP, “Sustainable sourcing is the integration of social and environmental factors into the selection process for suppliers.” That means a company ensures all of their suppliers treat their workers and their environment with respect. Sustainability is, primarily, about ensuring the long-term viability of our natural resources. So it’s important to support companies who are all in, but individuals can do it too! Here are some quick things to consider when looking for sustainably-sourced products. Agricultural Care

Not all plants are created equal. Some plants, like almonds for example, require a massive amount of water to grow. This means that certain plants have a greater impact on the environment than others. Continuing with almonds, California is one of the top producers of almonds in the world, but has also been in a drought for over a decade. According to the California Water Impact Network, almonds use around 13% of California’s annual water supply. This has a real impact on the people who live in that region, as it forces them to restrict their water usage. It’s important to know where your food comes from because of the impact certain crops have on the environment.

Deforestation is also a huge concern when planting crops and developing urban areas. Forests, especially rainforests, responsible for absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere Not only does deforestation reduce the number of CO2-absorbing trees, but it also emits more carbon dioxide than any other activity save burning fossil fuels.

Deforestation, specifically in the Amazon places the indigenous peoples of the Amazon as well as the more than five thousand animal species and forty thousand plant species that dwell in the forest in grave danger. Many of those who develop Amazonian land are small-scale farmers, but large corporations like McDonald’s have come under fire for sourcing soy from illegally-deforested land in the Amazon. If you have the means, The Amazon Fund is Brazil’s primary mechanism for collection donations to preserve their rainforest while supporting everyone who relies on the forest for their livelihood.

California and the Amazon are great examples of the importance of knowing where your ingredients come from. Just because it’s in a Whole Foods and recyclable packaging doesn’t mean it’s sustainably-sourced. The same goes for cosmetics. Beauty brands that are upfront and transparent about where their ingredients come from are a safer bet. For a quick list to start with, check out this article on Sustainable Brands to Watch in 2023. It’s important to support beauty companies that are conscious of the impact their makeup and skincare products have on the environment during all stages of development; not just after the consumer buys them.

Waste/By-Product Management

Packaging isn’t the only source of waste in the beauty industry! Growing all the plants that go into your serums and moisturizers creates a lot of waste. Even if you’re not all-natural, refining and extracting the ingredients necessary to make cosmetics produces waste by-product. Some beauty brands, like Biossance, minimize waste by using every part of their ingredients. Their flagship product, the squalene serum, is made from sugar cane. Sugar cane has a fibrous husk that doesn’t really break down into anything that benefits the skin. So, rather than simply throwing all that husk away, Biossance recycles it to make their cardboard unit cartons.

Human Rights

We usually associate sustainability with environmental protection, but human workers involved in the manufacturing of goods are just as important. Small-time farmers are often exploited by large corporations especially in Central Africa and South America. These farmers often work long hours in brutal heat for little pay, and are expected to meet unreasonable output metrics. Organizations like Fairtrade create networks of these farmers to guarantee they’re paid living wages and working in safe conditions. Next time you’re buying coffee or chocolate or anything really, look for their seal!

But it’s not just about the obvious goods like food and chocolate. With the rise of natural, plant-based skincare and makeup, it’s more important than ever to make sure that the beauty companies you support, support their workers on all levels. Not just their employees, but everyone all the way down to the farmers who grow their ingredients. Human labor is a precious resource and a core component of sustainability.

Why We Care

It’s so important to support sustainable practices from the beginning of production to the consumer’s hands. If you’ve got a favorite product from a non-sustainable brand, before giving it up why not see if it’s on glou.co? Our beauty marketplace is constantly updating with old favorites and new finds at reduced cost to you and the planet.

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