Durable, local, and ethical, that’s how the Earth needs products. Small companies that are committed to sustainability and Fair Trade labels such as Fairtrade Ibérica say this, but the data also show it. According to Greenpeace, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global emissions. Furthermore, objects such as mobile phones and household appliances are equally involved in environmental decline. As the organization recalls, the current use of natural resources is on average 1.7 times faster than ecosystems can regenerate. Resources that quickly end up becoming waste.
T-shirt or pants ready to wear of “competitive” price that abounds in the shop windows of the Black Friday it costs much more than what its label says, ecologists say, and not only because of its effects on the environment: “There is something they are not telling us and someone is paying that price,” says Carmela Serantes, partner of the socks brand. sustainable Calzafratelli. For Álvaro Goicoechea, the director of the organization that certifies sustainable trade, Fairtrade Ibérica, offshoring that seeks to lower costs can hide precarious working conditions and “we can’t put on a blindfold.” The International Labor Organization (ILO) has already warned about this, since 21 million people in the world are victims of forced labor. “Sometimes we forget that people are behind the trade,” added the spokesman.
Fortunately, and although they remain in the long shadow of this Black Friday, there are alternatives. More and more businesses are committed to manufacturing their products in a sustainable way, that is, respecting both the environment and human rights. From socks to leggings, bibs, bottles and creams, all can be consumed responsibly.
Small Spanish companies that are committed to sustainability
Platforms such as the sustainable online store The Good Shop they are witnesses to the effort of small Spanish companies that produce taking care of the planet and society. Up to 33 local brands are gathered on this website with the intention of providing consumers with more respectful purchase options. One of them is that of Antonio Caparreli and Carmela Serantes, Calzefratelli. His business is dedicated to the sale of socks, because even the smallest garments can have a big impact, they explain.
“Poor quality socks have a very limited duration, generating waste very quickly,” says Serantes. “In addition, they usually travel from the other part of the world”, involving a multitude of emissions, and “They come from countries with much more lax laws both at an environmental and labor level ”. These, on the contrary, are made in a workshop in Barcelona. The same happens with leggings of recycled fabric from Actandbe, by Laura González, which are manufactured between Barcelona and Almería. “From the fabrics to the making of the garments, including the labels or the packaging, everything is manufactured in Spain ”, he tells RTVE.es.
“I want everything to be billed here“
Amami, Mireia Argelich’s brand, is another of the sustainable alternatives. Argelich handcrafts bibs, bags, pacifier holders and other children’s accessories. The fabrics are bought in local stores in Portugal or Catalonia, although she also likes to stroll through the neighborhoods of Madrid when she can. “I want the product to be as close as possible, that everything is billed here and that things are paid as they have to be paid“.
These types of companies also pay special attention to product packaging. An example is Anainas, a store of products for children’s skins whose packaging is fully recyclable: the stopper is made of wood and 70% of the labels are sugar cane. In addition, the box in which the purchases are sent “can be recycled to become a game,” he says.
However, sustainable businesses face constant criticism, that of their prices, somewhat higher than usual. For example, while a synthetic T-shirt can cost around 10 euros, an organic cotton garment can even cost 30. But is it really more expensive to consume sustainably? There are several factors to consider, experts say.
Is it more expensive to consume sustainable products?
Higher prices are the first difference the customer notices in sustainable brands. This may lead you to think that this style of consumption is only reserved for people with high purchasing power. Conversely, companies report their long-term profitability: if you buy less and better, the necessary budget is the same, because they last many more years, they say.
“The issue is not the startup investment, but the durability of the product and that is what must be valued, “explains Greenpeace activist Celia Ojeda. For his part, the director of Fairtrade Ibérica, Álvaro Goicoechea, emphasizes the consequences hidden by minimum prices: “With respect to what is more expensive?”
Exploitation, drought, greenhouse gases, marine pollution … If they are put on a balance next to the euros that sustainable products cost “extra”, the bargains are much more expensive, aim. Companies, they confess, cannot offer more “competitive” prices. “By producing as sustainable as possible, the margin is greatly reduced”, that is why this option “is not so interesting depending on what type of company”, Caparreli says from his workshop in Barcelona.
Also, it is a difficult road. As Anainas explains to RTVE.es, “taking the step is complicated, because going the conventional way is usually much faster and cheaper“, while” certain business decisions are more expensive and have a more complex implementation. “However, these small businesses, although they have a higher price, are not focused on achieving the economic benefit and therefore resist:” It is worth it. lay the pillars to develop a more social, sustainable and circular economy “.
“The money is in our hands”
The blitz of advertising is constant and ubiquitous. Billboards, television advertisements, influencers, social networks … The incitement to mass consumption and harmful to the environment is everywhere, disguised in bright colors and handsome models. However, as Argelich points out, “the money is in our hands”. It is we, the buyers, who can turn the situation around by betting on sustainable products. “It is the way that we citizens to make ourselves strong”, adds Argelich.
“Find out and compare”, Goicoechea encourages consumers to turn the product around, to look carefully at what ingredients it is made from, where it comes from and where it has been manufactured. “If before buying a refrigerator that costs 600 euros you do it because of its high price, you can also find out what is behind a three-euro coffee,” he suggests.
Caparreli and Serants also recommend looking carefully at the raw materials, that the traceability is transparent and, if in doubt, ask the company. “We have to be informed consumers” who buy much less and much better. Although they also recognize that it can be difficult to really distinguish projects that strive to be sustainable.
Stamps such as Fairtrade Ibérica, Biocotton and Organic Farming in Europe can help in the task of consuming responsibly. For this reason, the State Fair Trade Coordinator prepared a International Fair Trade Certification Guide to make it easier for the consumer public and professionals to understand the main sustainable labels. Also platforms like Sustainable or Sustainable They offer databases with certifications of these products.