I was extremely pleased to discover such an ideal company purpose and framework and hadn’t previously heard of it. Wearth London comprises of an online website, acting as a connection to 300+ local businesses/ small businesses that they approve of as ‘sustainable and ethical’. This helps create easy access for consumers to better sources for various types of products as it is not just focused on a single product stream such as jewellery, but instead includes categories such as beauty, toiletries, zero waste and refills, homeware and gifts as well. While it is similar to other multibusiness online marketplaces such as Etsy and Not On The High Street which promote small businesses, Wearth’s ecological concern throughout its marketing and website are unique. Additionally, the range of the product types add practicality, such as helping consumers start up zero waste eating/ living and refills for products to help reduce waste, helping them change their lifestyles. Therefore, it not only pays attention to production methodology, but also ensures sustainability for the consumers and encourages better lifestyle choices. Additionally, as it is an online marketplace, it is more accessible to customers and reduces the wastage of space from physical stores. The website is said to be partnered with Forest Nation, an organisation that plants trees, but it is unclear how this method is funded, whether it is from profits or just organisational donations.
The company makes various efforts to show the details of the individual brands by categorising them based on their values and explicitly mentioning a detailed ingredients list and packaging details. As a company themselves, they help create net positive impacts through the carbon neutral shipping and reforesting projects that they are invested in.
They could make more efforts to increase the transparency on ethics of the production of items sold on their website and be more informative about their criteria with which they approve of brands, but overall it is an extremely commendable site. It helps people shop and live better and raises awareness of the local sources and companies that can help consumers achieve this, supporting the environment, small businesses and environment-concerned consumers at once. The range of product types are moderately accessible in price, being around the same price as large chain sellers despite their nature or might go up to 50% more in price depending in the quality of the material and product used since sustainable commodities can be more valuable.
As a digital marketplace, the company itself doesn’t waste or occupy a physical space, helping to avoid additional material usage, and only acts as a platform connecting the consumer to various small businesses that are eco-friendly, and especially helping them with zero waste products. It connects consumers to 300+ British brands that are supposedly eco-friendly and vegan friendly and cruelty-free. They say that they handpick the brands based on their criteria of assessment, but don’t mention the specifications of this. This is a slight risk when claiming that all the brands are cruelty-free as there are chances of animal testing at various stages in manufacturing and the level of certification by different organisations for cruelty-free have different levels of rigidity in being particular about this.
The brand explicitly mentions their personal contribution to packaging sustainably by using ‘minimal, environmentally-friendly’ packaging. The materials are not specified as this would probably vary based on the nature of the product due to the range of product types. It could potentially be assumed that they used cardboard packaging, which can be made from recycled paper to help reduce waste. This is definitely a recyclable material and avoids the damage of non-biodegradable plastic packaging. However, it could take more energy to produce cardboard, but if recycled paper is used to make it, this is reduced by almost 70%. It also helps to reduce waste and not encourage more deforestation, but rather, using materials to their full potential. When looking at one of the products, it was noticed that the website explicitly displays the packaging details and the delivery time frame. In general, products displayed sustainable packaging that often originated from recycled materials, showing Wearth’s extensive assessments of the brands they approve of.
The website consists of a wide range of product types and the categories displayed are beauty, toiletries, zero waste, refills, homewares, jewellery, fashion and gifts. This range shows the company’s effort to create an extremely useful website for lifestyle products of all categories, even for gifting, which shows the consumer the range of options actually available to them locally. Additionally, by including ranges for zero waste and refills, this helps consumers personally improve the eco-friendly nature of their own lifestyles too, showing how the company has an even larger impact on the world.
All the brands listed are british brands, and it is possible to shop for those explicitly produced only in the UK, which is 70% of their products. However, this does not include all of their products, which is a slight limitation and a potential addition to their assessment of brands in order to better the impact they make. At the same time, considering the small nature of the businesses and their local source, it is likely that the products/ manufacturing isn’t extremely outsourced and done with ethical framework in nearby countries. This can be assumed as ethics is at the core of their framework, and as a small startup themselves, it seems likely that they stick to these values due to the relatively high transparency across the website.
In terms of the rest of the role of the brand, Wearth mentions that their product delivery doesn’t arrive together necessarily if the order is placed across multiple brands. This is seen as a slight limitation as it wastes more ghg release during shipping, but it is technically out of their control due to the nature of their website as a marketplace. However, the brand could potentially consider offering the customer a one-time delivery as an alternative to increase the options for better impact.
The delivery is said to be carbon-neutral. Actually, its stated details indicate net-positive work, as they contribute to mitigate twice as much CO2 as the products are estimated to cause. This is done based on the parcel weight, delivery distance and 110% of the average CO2 emission per order, showing the detailed focus of the brand to improve their impact. Normally, carbon-neutral schemes are a passive technique that is simple for brands to greenwash customers with as long as they have sufficient economic means. However, Wearth’s double contribution and biannual checks on CO2 emissions show their committed efforts. This is not the only scheme or project they do to mitigate their harmful impact from production as they support various focused carbon neutral projects, especially in the Amazon and even the woodlands in the UK. This effort is admirable and should set an example for other companies.
The packaging varies depending on the company producing the purchased products but is explicitly mentioned and monitored by Wearth. The packaging framework specifies a focus on minimizing plastic usage, which is really important due to the facts that plastics are produced by hydrocarbons, fail to biodegrage or be directly recyclable (only processed to reuse), risk microplastic release into the environment and also have high ghg consumption in their production process.
The company makes it easy to “shop by values”, raising awareness of the unique range of products that are unconventionally eco-friendly and increasing their accessibility. This helps more concerned consumers make choices with factors that matter more to them with easy navigation to the different sections or even symbology on the product description pages. The values mentioned that customers can shop by are plastic free, made in the UK, vegan friendly, refillable, handmade, natural ingredients, organic, recycled materials, social contribution and sustainable materials. This extensive list is unique to find in one place and once again helps the consumers find options that make them feel better and have a better social and environmental impact.
The company was founded by two individuals who wanted to increase the availability of eco-friendly living and shopping. As the brands featured are all independent, small businesses, this eliminates the potential for child labour in production or sweatshop production, due to more local products. As mentioned, 70% of their products are made in the UK, where the ethical legislations are much stricter than regions where big chains normally export production. Apart from being a marketplace, Wearth also has a blog, which is led by an individual called Bethany Austin, who is passionate about business and the environment, working with ideals that align with the company itself.
The producers of individual products across the brands aren’t mentioned clearly, but mention where it is handmade, enabling better product choices. Some products which have social contributions even have partnership with local crafters and individuals if sourcing a unique product like vietnamese coconuts for recycled coconut bowls. This uses the expertise of the local contributor to ensure a better product and production method. Unfortunately, the company could have increased their transparency on the ethical assessment of brands, and promote more ethnic equity like the promotion of black-owned brands or ensuring diversity in their workforce.
The website does include a series on Meet the Maker, for consumers to learn about the owner of the various small companies. This breaks down the barriers of normal large production chains and helps the consumer learn about the ideology behind the brands they can buy from and the change they want to see.
Wearth is partnered with Forest Nation in order to make an even better environmental impact. This supports a project to replant trees in Tanzania through donations and company contribution. Through this, it is estimated that they have planted a total of 2036 trees, absorbing approximately 50.90 tonnes of CO2 annually and creating work for the local planters as well. Reforesting shows the important focus on widening their impact, although the specifics such as variation in the type of tree planted aren’t mentioned and could risk monoculture replantation. This is not the only project that Wearth works with. They have supported a forest projection project in Para, Brazil, which conserves 90000 hectares of the Amazon rainforest and also provides skills and training to the resident families to encourage them to create sustainable forms of income. They also focus on a local project called the Woodland Carbon Code afforestation initiative in the UK, which rehabilitates wildlife and increases the woodland extent.