Conservation and reduced use of natural resources:
This means the responsible sourcing, usage and protection of resources and energy in the manufacturing process and supply chain. Using substitutes to protect rare and energy intensive raw resources is key to protecting the environment. Bamboo and hemp are examples that have been used to replace wood, cotton and building materials. For companies to adopt the use of innovative technology to reduce energy consumption, waste production and water usage is fundamental to conserving natural resources. The use of alternative energy sources, converting waste into energy and the recycling and reuse of water in processes are just some examples.
Reducing packaging materials is another simple way to reduce the use of resources. The European Commission established The Eco Management and Audit Scheme and additional tools such as the Green Public Procurement (GPP) to assist companies to assess their environmental performance and increase resource efficiency and promote leaner production.
Raw materials come from certified organic production. The regulatory standards do change depending on the issuing organisation. The EU Organic Farming Standard (EC Organic VO) is a minimum requirement for foods.
Associations such as Demeter have stricter standards.
Currently there are 2 independent organic certifications. The Organic Contents Standards (OCS) and the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification require the organic cultivation of raw materials with transaction certificates. The GOTS Standard has strict regulations on the dyeing of textiles and water consumption. It also takes a more Fair Trade approach and considers the social and economic aspect of workers within the supply chain.
For a more detailed description of their criteria https://www.global-standard.org/the-standard/general-description.html
Workers in all facets of the supply chain are protected both socially and economically
Is very much connected to a cradle to cradle circular lifestyle approach. The aim is to consume without creating waste, to reuse as much as possible and if necessary recycle ideally leaving nothing for landfill.
Biodiversity is vital to the health of the planet and our own survival. It is what boosts and supports our eco-systems ensuring natural sustainability for all life forms. The Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) that were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 highlighted as one of their goals the need to protect the earth’s biodiversity. The benefits of environmental conservation and regeneration cross all sectors and whilst it may not be the thing you think about when buying a pair of shoes or a t-shirt, it probably should be. It impacts every aspect of our lives, our health and the way we will be able to live in the future. We are losing species at an unprecedented rate and this is largely due to industrial agriculture and farming practices, which have supported monocultures and wiped out eco systems through over farming, deforestation and use of chemical pesticides.
Companies that are carbon neutral means that they have achieved net zero carbon emissions by measuring the amount of carbon released through their entire operations reducing where possible and offsetting the remaining amount. Companies and individuals can reduce their carbon emissions through a number of ways. Using renewable sources of energy for production and general operations, using more efficient transport means, reducing or eliminating consumption of meat based products, and reducing the amount of waste they create, to name just a few. Companies and individuals can offset the remaining amount by investing in environmental projects around the globe that are designed to reduce future emissions
To treat or process a product so that it can be reused. This mainly happens with certain plastics, glass, paper and certain metals. Unfortunately in the process products often lose some of their value and are down cycled. Paper is made up of long fibres and these fibres are shortened in the recycling process. The average sheet of paper can only be recycled 5 to 7 times. Only few types of plastic can be recycled and even then it is often very difficult for recycling plants to sort out correctly the 50 different types. Of those plastics that can be recycled they will only go through the recycling process once or twice before ending up in landfill or in an incineration plant. This is due to the thermal breakdown during the process and also due to the mixing of polymers, which downgrades the quality of the plastic giving it a lower economic value. With recent developments in polymer materials some can be chemically recycled back to their raw materials to manufacture new plastic. This will have benefits for the future but is not a solution to the challenges we face with existing plastic waste. Glass and metals can be recycled infinitely.
This table from www.worldindata.org gives a clear idea of what can and can’t be recycled.
Objects and materials that may be old or would usually be discarded are upgraded to create a product that is often more beautiful and has a higher value than before. Waste is looked as a resource and a creative opportunity. An example would be used car tyres being repurposed to make well-designed baskets. Using pallets to make coffee tables, indoor swings or even beds. Old clothes that can be redesigned to create unique fashion pieces or just a decent cover for your laptop. It is a positive step to protect resources and have a lighter carbon footprint.
Developed by William McDonough and Michael Braungart cradle-to-cradle is a design concept that considers the entire life span of a product., eliminating the concept of waste by mimicking nature’s regenerative approach to waste. Waste is broken down and reutilised for another process, maximising its life span and nutrient vlaue. It really forms the basis for a circular economy and approach to living where we do not waste resources but rather design products and services so that the resources can be reutilised without reducing their inherent value. With population growth at 750million every decade and our dependence on finite resources increasing the only way to manage consumption without running the risk of exhausting resources till there is nothing left is to design with a cradle to cradle approach.
Products that are produced within the local region. This is a key factor in combating climate change by reducing carbon emissions, supporting biodiversity and also supporting the local economy. By reducing transport distances one is ale to reduce carbon emissions significantly. It impacts bio-diversity, as local producers are often able to produce a variety of crops rather than one crop en masse. Sustainability also includes people and supporting local businesses not only impact the local economy but also has a positive social impact within communities.