Earth Month is upon us and every company on this green earth is about to become suddenly greener. A lot greener. 

While I personally enjoy any excuse for planet-positive action, sometimes earth month can be OVERWHELMING and fraught with fibs. Sustainability has gotten trendy enough for big players to start noticing there is money to made in this realm, and when they realize there is money to be made, those big players go above and beyond to point out how astoundingly eco-friendly they are, even if that stretches the truth a wee bit.

Phrases like: "Natural Ingredients", "Eco-Friendly", "Low Impact" and the ambiguous "Green" fly furiously all April long but what do they really mean? How can you tell if a product really is "Green"?  There are certainly a few ways to make sure they are complying with certain standards, some of my favorite things to look for with large companies are fair trade certifications, B corporations and cruelty free testing. However, these certifications can be difficult for smaller companies to attain which makes things trickier, especially if you want to shop small/micro businesses on a regular basis.

At Marilla's we spend a LOT of time sourcing and getting to know our suppliers so I thought it might be helpful to share a few of the tricks I keep up my sleeve to help me feel confident in our products and the people we work with. 

1. SEND AN EMAIL/MESSAGE. The first, and fastest tip on this list is going to be sending the email, dm, or even making a phone call to see if you can connect personally with the brand you are interested in. Sometimes I'm met with a stock answer, that usually tells what I need to know, but quite often I get to speak with a human being who cares about what they are doing. We can talk about their supply chains, their manufacturing conditions, their sourcing, even their packaging!


2. Stalk their website. It seems as eco becomes more trendy, everyone has a page on their website that talks about their ethics and what they do to give back. Look for tabs like "Impact", "Our Mission", sometimes it's hidden in the "About Us", and my favorite: "Sustainability" (simple and sweet). Once you've found the page look for specifics, even if they seem inconsequential. This is where the certifications come in handy. I look for third party inspections, fair trade certifications, I look for rainforest safe, and I love when a company gets super detailed about what they do and HOW. I tend to be wary of vague wording about "Giving Back" and creating a sense of community. Not to say that is bad, but I'd rather see one plain paragraph about living wages and planting 3 trees a year, than a lengthy scroll filled with warm fuzzy verbiage and stock photos of happy children and clear running water.  

(again, lest I sound like a cynic, NONE of these things are bad, I only want to make it clear that not all that glitters is gold. Or green for that matter.)


3. Buy local when you can. This makes everything simpler if it's an option. Perhaps your neighbors chickens aren't certified organic, but you know what they are eating and can probably feel good about eating those eggs. Buying and sourcing local makes it simple to understand the supply chain, keep things low waste, and builds a healthy community. (There I go with some warm fuzzy verbiage...)


Finally, I understand that all these steps take precious time and that not everyone has the luxury to email the companies every time they need to replace their dish sponge and THAT is where we come in! At Marilla's Mindful Supplies we go above and beyond to do all this homework ahead of time so you can feel good about purchasing the products on our shelves. Are we perfect? Absolutely not. Are we putting time and intention into each product and always making sure to investigate (AND TEST) each new product? Absolutely. 

Through the last few years, I have sent countless emails and made hundreds of phone calls. The companies and makers that take the time to answer my questions, send proof of inspections, give human answers regarding their working conditions etc. have made it on the shelf. Other brands not so much and that's ok. The relationships we have formed through the last few years have helped us elevate brands and makers we believe in and create a space that is mindful of not just the products but the PEOPLE that we work with on both sides of the supply chain.


So are we doing anything crazy for earth month? Not really. You'll have a few more emails in your inbox (we have SOME fun things planned, of course) but for the most part, Earth Month at Marilla's is pretty much like every other month at Marilla's. Sustainable, simple, and mindful of the planet and people we love and appreciate so much. 


Talk soon, Happy Earth Month, and don't let the green marketing extravaganza get you down! 


April 01, 2024 — Marilla Gonzalez


Tom McClure said:

Thanks for explaining the difference between real and phony claims from companies about products being “green.” And, for doing the homework for your customers.

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