The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Sustainable Products in 2024

Derek Ma Jun 10, 2024
7 People Read
Table of Contents
  1. The “Unsustainable” Linear Model
  2. What Are The Most Sustainable Products?
  3. Sustainable Products Think Outside the Box
    1. Barnana
    2. Wild Idea Buffalo Jerky
    3. Regrained
  4. How to Identify Sustainable Products
  5. Why Sustainable Products Matter
  6. Final Thoughts On Sustainable Products

What comes to mind when you think of sustainable products?


Hydroflask (reusable water bottle)?  Reusable shopping bags? Organic products?


If you had asked me this question before I got my bachelor’s and master's degrees in Environmental Science, my answer would be quite different.


A common definition of “sustainable” is meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.


But in a world with extreme overproduction and overconsumption, how far exactly do our “needs” go?



Pollution

The “Unsustainable” Linear Model


There is constant pressure to buy the latest and greatest products, it can sometimes be difficult to resist the urge to consume constantly.


Most people want the latest and greatest technology, such as the newest iPhone or to stay in fashion, such as buying the latest clothing trends.


Only some people think about the consequences of our culture of overconsumption.  


A major flaw in the linear model is its emphasis on short-term gains over long-term sustainability.


The traditional “linear” model, which involves extracting resources, manufacturing products, and disposing of waste in a “linear” one-way process, is taking a toll on our environment and depleting our natural resources at an alarming rate. 


As the global population continues to grow and the demand for goods and services increases, it is becoming clear that we cannot continue to follow this linear model if we want to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.



What Are The Most Sustainable Products?


First off, what makes a product sustainable?  Is it simply black and white? These products are and those products are not.


Through my time researching sustainable products, I have found that there can be different levels when it comes to sustainability.


However, choosing not to buy products can be one of the most sustainable choices that we can make.


For example, the most sustainable clothes are our old clothes.


In my article on fast fashion, I talk about how people today purchase 60% more clothes than in past decades but only wear them half as long.


Fast fashion is designed to make you feel “out of trend” after a couple of weeks, prompting you to continue buying more and more clothes.  


This “out of trend” feeling has led to a 36% decrease in clothing utilization in as little as 15 years, with a third of young women believing that a garment is considered ‘old’ after it has been worn only once or twice.


So, are you saying you shouldn’t buy any more clothes to be sustainable?


No, definitely not.  


However, I believe we all can be more conscious of how and what we consume.


For instance, slow fashion focuses on quality over quantity, emphasizing durable and timeless pieces made to last.


Finding durable and timeless pieces of clothing made from organic cotton or pieces made from recycled or upcycled materials, is the next best thing to keeping and wearing your old clothes.



Sustainable Products Think Outside the Box


Three of my favorite examples of products thinking outside the box are the sustainable snacks Barnana, Wild Idea Buffalo Jerky, and Regrained.


Barnana


Fresh bananas can be rejected for export and thrown away because they have scuffs, are too ripe, or are not the perfect size. 


Almost 50% of all bananas produced are estimated to go to waste.


Barnana takes the bananas that normally go to waste and turns them into tasty snacks. 


Wild Idea Buffalo Jerky


Wild Idea Buffalo has revolutionized the buffalo jerky industry by using their business as a tool for conservation. 


By focusing on the health of the buffalo and the grassland ecosystem, they have created a sustainable and environmentally friendly product.


Buffalos play a crucial role in maintaining the health of grassland and prairie ecosystems. 


Their grazing habits help to keep the grass and soil healthy by preventing the dominance of certain plant species. 


The buffalo's presence also helps to balance the competition between forbs and dominant grasses, creating a diverse and resilient ecosystem. 


Furthermore, buffalos contribute to the dispersal of seeds by chopping up the ground with their hooves, allowing new plant species to take root and thrive. 


This process is essential for the regeneration and sustainability of the dwindling grasslands in the United States.


At Wild Idea Buffalo, the production of buffalo jerky is part of a larger conservation effort that prioritizes the well-being of the animals and the land.


Unlike conventional meat production systems, there are no concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).


Instead, the buffalo roam freely across thousands of acres of their native grassland habitat, mimicking their natural behavior and ensuring their welfare.


This holistic approach to buffalo meat production not only benefits the animals but also results in a higher-quality product for consumers.


Regrained


Spent grains are a significant by-product of beer production, making up nearly 85% of the waste generated by breweries each year. 


However, instead of being discarded, these grains can be repurposed to provide incredible nutritional value. 


After the sugar is extracted for beer production, what remains is a treasure trove of plant protein, prebiotic fiber, and essential micronutrients. 


By milling these spent grains into what Regrained calls "Supergrains," individuals and companies can tap into a powerful source of nutrition. 


These supergrains boast an impressive 55% more dietary fiber than wheat flour, 24% more protein than quinoa, and 26% fewer calories than traditional wheat flour. 


The potential for utilizing spent grains in this way not only reduces waste but also offers a sustainable and nutritious alternative to traditional grains.



How to Identify Sustainable Products


Identifying sustainable products is essential in our efforts to reduce our environmental impact and support companies that prioritize ethical and eco-friendly practices. 


One of the key indicators of a sustainable product is the materials used in its production. 


Look for products made from renewable resources or recycled materials, as these are less harmful to the environment. 


Additionally, consider the product's packaging - choose items with minimal or biodegradable packaging to reduce waste. 


Another factor to consider is the company's ethical practices, such as fair labor practices and transparency in its supply chain. 


Researching a company's certifications and commitments to sustainability can also help you identify truly sustainable products. 


For example, I love it when companies are B corporations or members of 1% for the Planet.


Lastly, consider the product's lifespan and its potential for reuse or recycling. 


Choosing durable, long-lasting products that can be easily repaired or repurposed will further reduce your environmental footprint. 


By making conscious choices and supporting sustainable products, we can all contribute to a healthier planet and a more sustainable future.



Why Sustainable Products Matter


As we become more aware of the environmental impact of our consumption habits, the demand for sustainable products continues to grow. 


From reducing carbon emissions to preserving natural resources, the benefits of choosing sustainable products are numerous. 


I believe that we vote through what we buy.


By supporting companies prioritizing sustainability, consumers can play a crucial role in driving positive change. 


On the other hand, when we choose to buy from companies that prioritize profit over people and the planet, we are perpetuating harmful practices and contributing to the degradation of our world. 


It's important to be mindful of our power as consumers and make informed choices that align with our values.


Whether it is buying products made from recycled materials, choosing energy-efficient appliances, or investing in fair trade and sustainable goods, every small decision adds up and can make a difference. 



Final Thoughts On Sustainable Products


The importance of sustainable products cannot be overstated. 


In a world facing increasing environmental challenges, making conscious choices about the products we buy is essential for creating a more sustainable future. 


By supporting companies that prioritize sustainability, we can help reduce our carbon footprint, protect natural ecosystems, and promote ethical business practices. 


Sustainable products not only benefit the environment but also promote healthier lifestyles and communities. 


As consumers, we have the power to drive change through our purchasing decisions. 


By choosing sustainable products, we can help build a more sustainable and resilient economy that benefits both people and the planet. 


In a world where climate change and resource depletion are urgent issues, the choice to support sustainable products is more important than ever. 


Let's all do our part to create a more sustainable future for generations to come.


Table of Contents
  1. The “Unsustainable” Linear Model
  2. What Are The Most Sustainable Products?
  3. Sustainable Products Think Outside the Box
    1. Barnana
    2. Wild Idea Buffalo Jerky
    3. Regrained
  4. How to Identify Sustainable Products
  5. Why Sustainable Products Matter
  6. Final Thoughts On Sustainable Products