The Natural Collection Ethical Approach
Introduction background criteria we avoid further information
Our company was formed in 1999 with a vision to create a distribution platform to support sustainable innovation and ideas. By offering a wide selection of ecologically considered products and services we hope to reach as wide an audience as possible.
In this way, we hope to demonstrate that the basic power of consumer choice can make commercially viable a growing range of top quality ecological products, even within a competitive and well established market place; products which use modern technology to harness nature’s benefits without exploiting her resources; products which can represent our 21st Century vision where trade is fair and poverty is alleviated through sustainable income generation; and ultimately and ideally, products where holistic consideration stretches right from their inception through their manufacturing process, to the benefit for the end user and eventually to their recyclability and/or bio-degradability.
Background to our Selection Criteria
- That it is through the basic choices of the consumer that real collective change can eventually be realised.
- That it is imperative that good commercial practice is maintained in order to demonstrate to the consumer that buying with 'green' in mind is not a about making a sympathetic decision.
- That change is a long-term objective. We hope that small steps of change now will lead to greater steps in the future and that any positive change is a good thing.
- That there is now an ever-growing variety of products that are made with eco consideration and also 'desirable' and fun, both aesthetically and functionally.
- We wish to bring to the market any product that will in some way change our perception or reduce our consumption of limited resources and move our thinking towards a sustainable, fair and happy future.
- Through our purchase, support and promotion of these products we hope to help increase volumes of production, which will ultimately help to bring these products to the market at affordable prices. Our intention is to contribute to a future where buying the eco or ethical option is no longer considered a luxury.
We believe that the ultimate ideal goal and vision for sustainable consumption is that all products are in complete harmony with nature by being:
- Made out of durable, non toxic, grown or recycled materials
- Easily recyclable or compostable in the UK at the end of their life, or that can be returned to the original manufacturer for recycling
- Powered by renewable energy in manufacture and delivery and use
- Free of releases of hazardous or persistent compounds during manufacture or in use
- Ten times more efficient than the most popular brand of the product was in 1990 in terms of materials and energy use
- The income generated by product sales supports all participants fairly throughout the supply chain
Unfortunately, while this is an ideal vision, very few products available today meet these criteria. Consequently, we seek out products that are moving in a positive direction in some way, and constantly review which products are offered and how much difference they make to us and our world.
We are constantly looking for products that include any of the following criteria:
- Good value for money. This is not always the same as 'cheap'. A longer product life, cheaper running costs, craft produced in fair conditions, less forest damage, better quality, and so on are all considered added value.
Use a lot less materials, water or energy. This is either during manufacture and when the product is in use or both.
- Are viable to ship from their location to us. Our calculations show that presently US or Asian products need to be about 10% 'better' environmentally to be worth shipping in, and then only until a more local supplier can deliver the same performance.
- We do believe that it is important to trade internationally. We would prefer the world to concentrate more on creative solutions like solar powered shipping for example, than to deprive developing worlds from international trade. We particularly like to encourage production of certain commodities such as bamboo and hemp for example, which have long-term benefits as sustainable and significant resources for the future of developing countries and the planet in general. We also believe that where some local industries are still very small or do not yet even exist in Britain as is the case with hemp or solar power, for example, it is very important to develop the market for it and by doing this create a realistic possibility that the local industry will be able to grow.
- Its manufacture does not exploit the environment, animals or people involved in its production and supply.
- Are made using renewable energy like wind, biomass or solar power.
- Are durable, so less of them need to be made.
- Are made of recycled materials, ideally from 100% post-consumer waste.
- Have a plan for when they are at the end of their life - they can be recycled, or composted, or sent back to the manufacturer for re-use or recycling.
- Provide a full listing of ingredients, preferably a short list!
- Are made of natural materials or materials produced by organic agriculture (such as cotton, food, wine, cosmetics ingredients etc.).
- Are made of wood, either from forests that have been certified by an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) accredited organisation; or which are from a forest we believe is being well managed. Not all the 'good wood' is certified, and not all certified wood is 'good'. The chemical treatment, energy used in drying and transport of the wood is also considered. We would ideally prefer air-dried, untreated, UK or European hardwoods.
- Are produced and distributed through a chain of supply that has treated workers and communities fairly. We try to include into our range products that have been manufactured through Fair Trade organisations and schemes
- Are from vegetable sources rather than being made of petrochemicals.
- Are from companies that do not test on animals, ideally operating a fixed cut-off date policy of 1976. We try our best to ensure that any of our products that are not suitable for vegans are marked as such - these are mainly items containing beeswax or milk. All our products are suitable for vegetarians, unless otherwise stated.
- We also consider products for our range when we believe that it just has good value towards improving consumer awareness about sustainability in general. A fruit powered clock, for example, may not be the ultimate planet saver, but it is fun and increases awareness of the emerging possibilities still to explore for creative alternative energy options.
Materials known to be hazardous to people and other living things, such as: CFCs, Asbestos, Halons, PCBs, Carbon tetrachloride, 1, 1, 1-Trichloroethane, Tetrachloroethylene, Lead and its compounds, Cadmium and its compounds, Mercury and its compounds, Chlorinated paraffins, PVC, TBT (tributyl tin), and Chromium VI. This is only a summary of a very long list that we continually update. We derive this list from global best practice, such as:
- Volvo's Black and Grey Lists
- State of California Prop 65 List of Carcinogens and Teratogens
- The EU Scientific Committee On Cosmetic Products And Non-Food Products Intended For Consumers - Opinion concerning fragrance allergy in consumers
- CITES Appendix I and II
For example for cosmetic products, we are continuously reviewing which ingredients are acceptable and we maintain a blacklist of ingredients we avoid, which includes: Parabens, Cocoamide DEA, Oxybenzone, Nanoscale zinc oxide, Formaldehyde, Dibuthylphthalate (DBP) and Diethylhexylphthalate (DEHP).
Many everyday products are treated, varnished, painted, laminated, sealed, dipped, polished, glued, bleached, dyed, washed and softened, and throughout all these processes thousands of chemicals are now being manufactured and refined. There are over 100,000 synthetic and mineral chemicals being made today, and many of them are cause for concern. Most have never even been tested for toxicity to people, let alone their wider impact on the environment. We do not believe that a 'nasty chemical' is always necessary for excellent product performance.
As new information comes to light we regularly review our considerations accordingly.
If you would like to read more about our policy see our Eco dot guides