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In today’s online marketplace, you can find endless alternatives for everything you are looking for. It’s only natural that people would simply choose the cheapest solution (nearly always amazon) without thinking about the other considerations: Where did this come from? Who made this? What are the ingredients? What are the labor standards used? What is the carbon footprint? Where will this product go at the end of its life?
Actually, the first questions that should be asked are whether a product is truly needed or whether another item already in possession can serve the same purpose. At green tribu, we have carefully selected our products to provide only products that we believe are not easily substitutable and are not simply zero waste trends. We believe that one of the cornerstones of zero waste is minimizing consumerism and purchasing zero waste alternatives that serve a specific purpose. Once we have established need, we move on to consider the other factors.
Ideally, 100% of our products would be made in Italy, with natural, safe, quality ingredients, and would be offered at an affordable price. Unfortunately, this is not yet our reality, but we hope that one day it will be!
For now, we have had to evaluate the many different factors when choosing our product, with a strong consideration on the carbon footprint. Where did the source materials originate? Were they sustainable sourced? How many intermediaries are involved? Imagine a t-shirt made from organic cotton which is grown in the US, sent to China to be turned into a T-Shirt and printed on, and then sent to a warehouse in the Netherlands to be sold online to be shipped to its final destination.
It’s important to consider where a product comes from to understand the carbon footprint of a purchase as well. That’s why, for green tribu, preference is given to products made in Italy, or at least Italian companies. When not possible, we make every effort to source from suppliers in Europe and only in rare cases or exceptional and unique products from suppliers outside Europe.
It requires a bit more searching but there are some excellent zero waste products here in Europe! As consumers, we should think not only about the price and speed of delivery, but what the consequences of buying through those sources is on the environment.
In addition, we are excited to select brands and companies who understand the importance of offsetting their carbon footprint, such as 24Bottles. They have made the production of their Urban and Clima bottles entirely carbon neutral through Treedom, a worldwide reforestation project.
At green tribu, we do our best to research suppliers and only select those who have sourced their materials sustainably and ensure the use of quality products. The following certifications are among what we look for in our suppliers.
GOTS - The Global Organic Textile Standard (“GOTS”) is recognized as the world's leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibers. It defines high-level environmental criteria along the entire organic textiles supply chain and requires compliance with social criteria as well. Only textile products that contain a minimum of 70% organic fibers can become GOTS certified. All chemical inputs such as dyestuffs and auxiliaries used must meet certain environmental and toxicological criteria. All of our cotton products are GOTS certified.
FSC – The Forest Stewardship Council is a global not-for-profit organization that sets the standards for what is a responsibly managed forest, both environmentally and socially. When timber leaves an FSC-certified forest FSC ensures companies along the supply chain meet their best practice standards also, so that when a product bears the FSC logo, consumers can be sure it’s been made from responsible sources. Nearly all wood products offered are FSC certified.
Vegan and Cruelty Free – Often, those of us who care about the planet, also care about animals and value products that are vegan and/or cruelty free. We do our best to identify products that meet these criteria where possible, including (among others): our deodorants, toothpastes and mouth wash, shampoos and natural dish brushes (alternatives often use animal hair) as well as Einhorn vegan condoms, which are all PETA cruelty-free e vegan. When not possible to be vegan, such as for silk floss which comes from silk worms and the alternative uses synthetic fibers, we choose the cruelty-free option such as Georganics which uses Ahimsa cruelty-free silk.
Its no secret conventional beauty products contain harmful chemicals and additives. Luckily, there is more and more awareness regarding harmful ingredients that should be avoided. Some wonderful resources for checking commercial beauty products for safety include EcoBioDizionari (in Italy) and The Cosmetics Database (in the US).
At green tribu, we select only products that have no additives, conservatives, perfumes, toxic ingredients (such as BPA, phthalates and lead), among others. Additionally, when choosing products that will be in constant contact with food or your skin, we have selected stainless steel (Pura baby bottles), medical grade, hypoallergenic silicone (MamiCup) and organic cotton (cotton disks).
In addition to the GOTS certification, which also ensures workers are paid fair living wages, green tribu looks to select suppliers with particularly impactful social projects. Some examples include:
- The Guppyfriend washing bag is sourced from Stop! Micro Waste, a nonprofit initiative dedicated to raise awareness about the (micro)plastic problem. They aim to explore and initiate great ideas on how to avoid, replace and re-use plastics in every day life and beyond. Among other things, they execute this objective through the Stop! Plastic academy where they spread knowledge about their research findings, experiences and scientific papers and train children and representatives to spread the acquired knowledge to their colleagues, customers and peers.
- Our loofas are sustainably and organically grown through a solidarity project in plantations in Benin, Togo by Ecodis.
- Einhorn condoms are not only cruelty free and vegan, but they are also aiming to be as “fairstainable” as possible. They have a mission to integrate the fairstainability criteria to the whole life cycle of an einhorn condom – from the rubber plantations to customers – to make it as fairstainable as possible by creating fair working conditions for everyone involved in the value chain, researching and increasing the biodiversity in the plantation, preventing the use of harmful pesticides, and keeping the CO2 emissions as low as possible.
- Eco-femme, who supplies our (coming soon!) reusable cloth pads, has a “Pad for Pad” program: every purchase of washable pads allows the organization to donate as many to less fortunate Indian girls and to help finance their education. Since 2013 Eco-femme has been partnering with government schools in Tamil Nadu and organisations across India to bring the Pad for Pad programme to girls from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
END OF LIFE
Being a zero-waste shop, where a consumed product ends up is absolutely top of mind. As previously mentioned, plastic is not the best material used. Of the remaining options, the most recyclable materials are steel, aluminum glass and paper. Another option is compostable materials, which are ideal as long as they are compostable, not only biodegradable.
Compostable and biodegradable are often used interchangeably. But they’re not the same thing. Biodegradable means that a product can be broken down WITHOUT oxygen and that it turns into carbon dioxide, water, and biomass within a reasonable amount of time. Now, reasonable is not really defined, but WAY less than 1000 years, which is how long it takes some plastics.
Compostable means it breaks down to carbon dioxide, water, inorganic compounds, and biomass at a rate similar to paper and breaks down into small pieces in about 90 days, so that you don’t even recognize the original compost, and it leaves no toxic residue.
green tribu was born out of our deep awareness and concern for environmental issues, including above all plastic pollution, which drives our actions to be consistent with this desire. Unlike other online shops that offer natural and zero waste products, we have decided to help our customers by offering absolutely no plastic, from the product offered, its packaging to the shipping to the customer.
We consider compostable products to be ideal (or products that simply are entirely used up!), and therefore love options such as our BeeBeeWraps bees wax wraps, Truthbrush bamboo toothbrushes and Scrubbies washable and compostable sponges. In exceptional cases, where there are truly no such alternatives, we choose medical-grade silicone, a mineral material (i.e. MamiCup) as it is the safest option and still reduces a significant amount of single use waste.
When it comes to packaging, the best packaging is no packaging, or alternatively compostable packaging. But as this is not always possible, glass, paper and aluminum are the best zero waste alternatives as they can be recycled. And don’t forget we use recycled and when possible we reuse the boxes and other packaging for shipment (including paper tape)!
Zero waste does not have to be an all or nothing affair. We are not extremists and understand it should be manageable and enjoyable to lead a sustainable life! That’s why we have chosen our products to be functional, without compromising their beauty. We want the zero waste lifestyle to be appealing to all, even those who are just getting started. “We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
COSTLast but not least, cost is absolutely an important factor when choosing products. Some may say that zero waste is expensive, and while it may appear that way, zero waste also encourages buying less, buying quality and making it last. Therefore, we select items that should last longer therefore often resulting in savings. We do our best to balance quality with value for your money as well as the other factors above and coupled with keeping our margins low, hope that we are providing the best quality at the best prices possible.