What on earth does sustainable mean and what can I do?

What on earth does sustainable mean and what can I do?

Eco Hero: Rudi Putra the Rainforest Regenerator Reading What on earth does sustainable mean and what can I do? 3 minutes Next Eco Heroes Ocean Conservationists

The term 'sustainably sourced' means that the ingredients are being harvested and then replaced at the same speed (or an even greater speed) so that we're not taking more than we can repay the environment. In an even simpler way, it means that we only take what we can give back – think campsite rules. Some companies have extended this towards being not only environmentally sustainable in practice but also economically (giving back to charities and community organisations) and socially (providing 'living wage', making sure that the people working for and involved in the business are being treated well). As you can imagine, it can get quite complicated to find out what a company means by 'sustainably sourced'.

It can be difficult to find out which companies use sustainable practices – especially since there aren't many regulations around brands. But there are certifications you can look for and a few main questions you can ask yourself or the brand you're purchasing from, before you support them with your custom. Remember, you have so much more power as a consumer than you probably think – Supermarkets would have never begun selling free-range eggs or stopped single-use plastic bags if consumers hadn't demanded it.

  1. Check a company's website for their mission statement and certifications – if they're proud of their practices, then they'll generally have them up for all to see.
  2. Buy local when you can – this is often easiest to do when buying fruit and veg produce but supporting local companies that source their ingredients locally is just as important.
  3. Pressure your favourite companies to do better – ask them why they use palm oil, that you want them to source sustainable ingredients, that you don't want that plastic wrap! Use your voice in-person and on social-media, it can be a powerful force for positive change.
  4. Certifications like B-Corp, are huge beacons of light when it comes to the three sustainable pillars – any B-Corp certified company has to go through a very transparent process and only the ones that are socially, economically and environmentally sustainable will clear the bar.

Coconut oil and coconut butter are both locally sourced (they need tropical temperatures to grow) and as they are some of our most used ingredients, we had to research very hard to find the best possible source that would be the most sustainable option. We were lucky enough to find a co-operative in Samoa called Women in Business Development, that is our now one of our sources of coconut oil and butter.


We are a certified climate neutral, cruelty free and a living wage employer and we have committed to donating 2% of revenue (or 20% of profit, whichever is highest) to charity.

Most of Ethique’s products are New Zealand-made and manufactured in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

We also try to work directly with producers to ensure they are paid a fair price for their product, which in turn ensures they look after their community and their environment.

As per all conscious consuming, it's about doing your homework and making sure you're supporting the companies that best align with your own values.