Sustainability: The Fashionable Story or a Misleading Trend?

In my journey of building a new sustainable business in North America, I have had the opportunity to discuss the market needs with various buyers, distributors, and retailers. While sustainability is acknowledged as crucial, I am discovering a reluctance to wholly invest, not just financially, but also in terms of time, effort, and embracing new pathways.

This contradiction raises an intriguing question: Are we truly committed to sustainability, or are we merely seeking the appearance of it while maintaining the status quo?



The Illusion of Sustainability: Many large-scale brands are quick to adopt sustainability labels and certifications, presenting themselves as environmentally conscious. Yet, upon closer examination, one can't help but question the authenticity of their claims. These brands continue to source products in the same manner, making minimal changes, if any, to their production processes. They slap on fancy sustainability names, add a few certifications, and expect consumers to believe they have made a substantial shift towards sustainability. But are these efforts genuine, or are we simply fooling ourselves?


The True Impact of Mass Production: To truly understand the implications of mass production, we must confront the stark realities it perpetuates. Whitewares manufacturing, for example, currently produces more than 100 million pieces of dinnerware and other products each year. However, due to inefficient use of water and raw materials, large amounts of waste are generated.

For instance, the glazing process alone, produces over 500,000 pounds of hazardous and non-hazardous solids and consume more than 10 million cubic feet of water annually, in most medium to large scale ceramic factories. This alarming amount of waste points to the detrimental consequences of mass production on our environment.

It is crucial to recognize that many brands sourcing dinnerware from these factories attempt to claim sustainability by addressing only a small part of their production or sourcing practices. However, the true impact of mass production cannot be ignored.



The Contradiction of Sustainable Expectations: One of the fundamental challenges we face when discussing sustainability is the desire for it to be achieved at the same cost, scale, efficiency, and aesthetic appeal as mass-produced products. However, this expectation is inherently contradictory. True sustainability requires a fundamental shift in our approach to production and consumption, as well as a reevaluation of our understanding of value.


The Cost of True Sustainability: To achieve true sustainability, we need to recognize that it often comes with a price tag that reflects the genuine costs associated with ethical sourcing, responsible production, and environmental stewardship. It demands investment in research and development, embracing innovative technologies, and reevaluating traditional business models. While these changes may require additional resources, time, and commitment, they are necessary to mitigate the environmental pollution and social injustices perpetuated by mass production.



Moving Beyond Superficiality: We must move beyond the superficiality of sustainability and strive for genuine, impactful change. By supporting businesses that prioritize ethical practices, responsible sourcing, and sustainable production, we can contribute to a more sustainable future. This requires making conscious choices as consumers, demanding transparency, and holding companies accountable for their sustainability claims.

Sustainability should not be treated as a fleeting trend or a marketing ploy. It requires a paradigm shift in our thinking and actions. True sustainability requires a twofold commitment: financial investment and a mindset change. It calls for openness to break free from existing pathways, question current norms, and redefine our standards of perfection and efficiency. It involves investing in ethical sourcing, responsible production, micro-scale factories, environmental stewardship, and innovative technologies. By combining these elements, we can pave the way for a truly sustainable future.

Let us strive for true sustainability, even if it means challenging the norms and reevaluating our choices. Together, we can create a better future for generations to come.



Co-founder Nugu Home


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