Sustainability: past, present and future

What’s the tipping point on waste and how can you spot truly sustainable brands? Read on to find out


The effect of 7.7 billion people inhabiting the Earth has never been more apparent.

For too long humans have been extracting what we need from the Earth and dumping what we don’t.

Why care about waste + sustainability?

The Earth’s resources are finite, which means embracing sustainability is inevitable.

Under the sheer weight of modern human life, the Earth is suffering as we collectively contribute to changes that are having devastating effects on our environment.

Not that the fuel we harvest, products we make and agricultural systems we employ aren’t useful, their success is testament to the ever-expanding population – but have we reached the tipping point?

The past

For centuries humans have been innovating, coming up with new materials, methods, products and industries that make life more convenient, comfortable and commercial.

In our eagerness for progression, we’ve been running with a linear economy for some time.

A linear economy

Each year, we use more than 100 billion tonnes of raw material and most ends up as pollution in the environment.

We take materials, we make things, we use those things and when we’re done with them they become part of the 21 billion tonnes of waste we dispose of each year.

This is a linear system and it needs to change to ensure enough resources are available to support the growing population and halt the ever-growing waste problem.

Introducing a circular economy

The European Union is investing billions in a new circular economy strategy and The Netherlands has pledged to go fully circular by 2050.

But what is a circular economy?

The present

A circular economy is all about manufacturers designing products that are reusable, and it's something that is underway.

This means looking into the raw materials, how the product works during its intended life and where the product ends up.

It means manufacturers producing more durable products that are easy to repair as opposed to replacing.

The circular economy doesn’t aim to end growth; it aims to bend how we do things back into harmony with nature so that growth can continue. 

The future

Exactly how a fully-fledged circular economy will look is still up for debate.

However, as more countries commit to the change, we hope to see an approach being carved out as soon as 2030.

Sustainability perception versus reality

In the meantime, choosing to adopt a sustainable lifestyle to minimise your impact on the planet comes down to the individual consumer.

As with most things, perception plays a big part in our judgement when it comes to sustainability.

As the importance of living sustainably has steadily risen year-on-year, industries, companies and brands aren’t ignoring the need to introduce sustainability measures.

However, not all brands measure-up when it comes to sustainability practices, and hoodwinking the consumer can be done easily with clever branding.

How can you be savvier with it comes to making sustainable buying choices?

9 things to think about when seeking sustainable products

If you're looking to make sustainable choices for the future, thinking about the past, present and future of a product is a great place to start.

1. Evaluate your need for the item

Step 1 in implementing a more sustainable lifestyle might be evaluating your need for a new purchase in the first place.

Of course, not every new thing you buy needs to be a necessity, but thinking about the value it adds to your life is important in preventing things from becoming waste.

2. Look into how the product is made

Reusable, natural or recyclable materials are something to look out for, as is the energy that goes into making the product.

Keep an eye out for brands that off-set their emissions or have invested in renewable energy to minimise the impact the production of their product has in the first place.

Did you know ENJO Internation has been carbon neutral since 2015?

3. Is there a hazardous substance risk?

It’s not always obvious, but some products can contain or involve toxic substances in the production process.

Choose companies that seek non-toxic materials and clean processes.

Removing toxic products from your life improves the health of your home and your local environment. 

4. Consider a company’s packaging

Packaging is one of the biggest sources of waste on the planet.

Often useful for only a short period of time, packaging becomes waste fast, and quite often it’s plastic, meaning it hangs around.

Choose companies that have invested in clever packaging that can be reused, upcycled or is part of the product itself.

5. How do they deliver?

Choosing local products where you can is a great way to minimise a products energy footprint.

You can also look into companies that choose more environmentally conscious transport options like a boat over air freight. 

ENJO choose environmentally-responsible transport options such as boat and train for as much as 70% of their shipping needs. 

6. How long will the product last?

The key to a sustainable product is how long it will last being effective at what it does.

Investing in durability and reusability is essential for minimising waste.

Did you know ENJO cleaning products can clean your home for 3 years?

7. Will the product be easy to repair?

If you’re investing in a product you hope to last, look into how easy it might be to repair it, if it should break.

Before making a purchase you could ask the company if they supply space or replacement parts.

8. Where will the product end up?

Only in recent years have brands looked into what happens to their product when it reaches the end of its useful life.

Look for products that are compostable, biodegradable, and recyclable or can be upcycled.

Any option that diverts old products from landfill is a good investment.

ENJO International upcycle old ENJO Fibres into home insulation and car seats.

9. Check-out a company’s commitment

If you’re unsure about investing in a brand, look into their values and commitment to upholding them.

Creating products that are truly sustainable tends to cost more money and require a higher level of commitment to research and development.

A truly sustainable brands commitment to the cause shines through and can be seen in charitable actions that focus on purpose over profit.

Interested in ENJO’s commitment to a cleaner planet?

Learn more about how ENJO strives for a sustainable product, past, present and future.

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