Signs a Company Is Actually Sustainable

Signs A Company Is Actually Sustainable

How to Tell If a Company Is Actually Sustainable


Everyone’s favorite company is selling a recycled alternative to their main product. Carbon offsetting for an upcharge is available at checkout. It seems like countless businesses worldwide are undergoing a sustainable shift, but how honest are they all being?

Some eco-aware changes are for the planet’s betterment, while some organizations choose not to tell the whole truth so customers believe they are forward-thinking. In a world where it isn’t always easy to figure out where to shop from and who to support, these are the biggest tells when determining corporate sustainability.

1. Verify Third-Party Certifications

Some agencies are full of sustainability experts. Who are clients more inclined to believe about how green a corporation is — the 30-year climate researcher or a Fortune 500 automotive CEO?

This question is precisely why third parties exist. Experienced auditors and reviewers look at enterprises’ practices and reports with a non-biased perspective to see if they adhere to specific sustainability criteria. Third parties can judge everything, including packaging, water use, and waste production.

A brand that meets the standards receives the third party’s certification. The accreditation informs customers their favorite store is willing to seek insight and follow experts’ industry-leading, evidence-based recommendations to certify positive climate impact.

There are tons of third parties judging the sustainability of companies, some more niche than others. They could evaluate commitment to renewable energy, ethical material sourcing, working conditions, or labor care. Here are some of the most notable and reputable:

  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
  • B Corp
  • Leaping Bunny
  • Fair Trade
  • USDA Certified Organic
  • Green Business Bureau
  • ISO 14001
  • Circular Economy Pioneer Program
  • Rainforest Alliance
  • Global Reporting Initiative

2. Look to Employees

No matter if someone is a professional auditor or curious customer, there is always value in hearing or reading first-hand experiences. Employees of an agency outside of management and shareholders are likelier to be honest about their workplace than those who benefit from marketing the brand a certain way. These are ideal starting points for research or an interview with a former worker:

  • What were the working conditions like and did you receive fair treatment?
  • Did the company’s publicity about sustainability match what you saw behind closed doors?
  • Are you aware of any conflicts, scandals, or lawsuits the business has gotten related to its environmental impact?

3. Judge a Company’s Transparency

A company may lack transparency if anyone has trouble finding answers to sustainability questions. There are a few reasons this might be. First, they could be hiding part of the truth. Secondly, it might be a business just starting its green journey that’s still obtaining resources, setting goals, and gathering data for transparency reporting.

Research on transparency requires patience and persistence. These resources are the best ways to judge an enterprise’s truthfulness:

  • It has corporate social responsibility or environmental, social, and governance objectives in public view.
  • It has transparent pricing.
  • It’s open about the sustainability of parent companies, if applicable.
  • Third-party evaluation services such as the Green Business Bureau and Good On You directory corroborate transparency claims.
  • It’s free of publicized misconduct and primarily negative reviews.
  • It’s opened up about sustainability failures and specifically details how they fix them.
  • There is an open forum for feedback.

Businesses benefit from being as truthful as possible. Around 70% of customers care about product traceability, demonstrating a willingness to pay more for verified, eco-aware products.

4. See the Organization’s Impact Outside of Profits

Brands that commit to sustainability do so because they feel the big picture is more vital than their sales or business scope. If a company is actually sustainable, it will go beyond its corporate needs to make more than a one-off donation or have a single line of eco-friendly products.

It will support environmental legislation even though that may cause a divide in their customer base. It will hold others in their sector accountable by lending advice or consulting services. This is the most straightforward way to see if an organization’s priority is the planet instead of extorting consumers’ money.

5. Know How to Spot Greenwashing

Greenwashing is when a company advertises committing to positive environmental changes but misconstrues some or all of the truth. Learning to spot greenwashing allows consumers to be more mindful of manipulation while holding agencies more accountable.

For example, a corporation like Amazon has icons on its store to label Earth-friendly items to help customers be more conscious consumers. It made a Climate Pledge to be net-zero by 2040. Doing so seems honorable, but Amazon’s working conditions are not ethical. It also abandoned part of its pledge without acknowledgment — its emissions have soared by 40% since 2019. Questioning every eco-friendly icon and advertisement may reveal more startling facts.

Determining a Corporation’s Commitment to the Planet

Beneath all the marketing tactics and subliminal messaging, it is possible to identify which organizations are genuinely trying to help the planet. These tactics are the perfect places to start researching. Nobody’s an expert at first, primarily when operations constantly change in many brands. The best advice is always to remain willing to learn because everyone is determining how to navigate it together.