We recently spent three days at the Melbourne gift fairs searching for useful, eco friendly and ethical choices to offer at Biome. The sheer quantity of low quality, synthetic, petrochemical, unethically-made products to wade through is incredible. It is like an exaggerated, intensified version of what eco-conscious shoppers deal with each day. Our criteria mean we need to ask many more questions than when a regular retail store selects products at these fairs.
There were many outrageous verbal answers, but I feel the written ones on the packaging are slightly more worrying. These printed messages will reach a bigger audience, and being printed on the product gives their claims more validity. Here are just a few examples:
- Labelled "organic" and "natural" without certification or justification and still containing synthetics or petrochemicals;
- Paper products promoting "recyclable" as an eco-benefit. This is environmentally misleading as almost all paper products can be recycled.
- Candles labelled as natural while still containing synthetics, or labelled as sustainable when containing 100% palm oil (at Biome we do not consider palm oil to ever be sustainably sourced due to the areas it typically comes from). See our Queen B beeswax candles for an alternative, and if you want a beautiful fragrant candle, add a few drops of our Tinderbox essential oils to the little wax pool at the top of the candle. Beware of fragranced candles touting themselves as natural as they will contain synthetic fragrances (natural essential oils cannot be mixed into candles without losing their scent very quickly).
It's hard work, but at the end of the day we take so much satisfaction that we are making it easier:
- for our customers to choose genuine eco alternatives (without green washing);
- for those whose hands make the products (by supporting only those producers that fairly pay and treat their workers); and, ultimately
- for the earth.