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Author:Agle, Annie

Q: I have an idea for a product but I'm also very concerned about the environmental impact (and waste) associated with physical products and their consumption. Is it really ethical to make yet another product? Especially as, in the developed world at least, most of my 'customers' probably don't need another product to buy?

  1. Great question. First, by being the kind of founder who actively questions the need for your product and its sustainability, you're self-identifying as the kind of entrepreneur the world needs more of. Asking for advice and being transparent with others about your ethical concerns is noble and applaudable and what conscious capitalism is all about in 2020. Given the strength of the personal ethics you have already displayed, I encourage you to start a business.

As you continue on your journey, keep asking tough questions about how to make your product sustainable. Start with careful consideration around the functionality of what you make. Build products the world needs and which facilitate a better society. For Cotopaxi and our founders, that meant building apparel that facilitates health, wellness, happiness, and freedom of expression. No one needs a cheap jacket, but everyone needs a jacket that keeps them warm, helps them be healthy outside, and is made to last longer.

After you design a product that meets a true need, think about how you can make that product as sustainably as possible. When you select materials, suppliers, shippers, packaging products, and retailers, keep asking yourself the hard questions. What are the most environmentally-sound materials? How can I make my product through suppliers that support fair trade and good climate policies? How can I best support those who make my products? Could carbon offset the footprint of the product somehow?

Don't be afraid to be experimental. Startups offer the most value to society when they try to do things differently. As a smaller company and one with ethics as part of your ethos, your brand can be at the forefront of sustainable innovation. At Cotopaxi, we...

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