The Howling Fern Sustainability Practices
We work hard to find small businesses in our local and regional communities that create sustainable, artisanal products. In addition to making goods that reconnect people to nature and inspire joy, each of our vendors embodies specific sustainability values.
Here is a breakdown of how we categorize sustainability in our stocked products and vendors.
The product comes from a small business, most often companies comprised of 1-5 people.
The product comes from a business owned by someone who identifies as Black, Indigenous, Queer, or a Person of Color.
Handmade & Small Batch
The product is handmade and/or made in small-scale batches rather than in bulk. Large-scale manufacturing often produces unnecessary waste and exploits vulnerable populations.
The product comes from a business owned and operated by a person who identifies as a woman.
The product comes from a mission-driven business that donates some of its sales or profits to a nonprofit organization.
The product comes from a business owned and operated by a family.
The extracted materials in a product do not deplete or damage natural resources.
The product is shipped in plastic-free packaging or contains minimal plastic packaging.
The Howling Fern is a sustainability-driven business, and we are continually striving to improve our efforts. We see sustainability as consisting of three fundamental ideas: minimizing negative environmental impacts, improving social equity, and practicing greater environmental stewardship.
The most well-known aspect of sustainability is the environmental footprint of product manufacturing, shipping, and waste. This includes energy consumption of production facilities, carbon emissions, and minimizing and safely disposing of waste from making or using goods. The movement of products has become increasingly global and complex in the 20th and 21st centuries, significantly increasing the negative impacts on the planet.
Sustainability is inextricably connected to social equity. Low-income and minority communities are more likely to live in neighborhoods exposed to toxic waste from sources like highways and landfills, and these communities are also less likely to have access to clean air, water, and natural spaces. A sustainable world must also be one where all of our communities are healthy and have equal access to life’s basic needs.
Sustainability also means taking better care of the planet: cleaning polluted natural resources, protecting natural habitats and native species, and caring for the places and spaces we live and work.
All of our sustainability practices are grounded in the idea that we can not only minimize our impact on the planet, we can also actively start to restore our environmental, social, and economic systems through the sharing of ethically-made goods.
The Linear vs. Circular Economy
Large-scale sustainability will entail transitioning from a linear to a circular economy. The circular economy is about creating an economic system that benefits people and businesses without taking a toll on finite natural resources.
Its goals include designing waste out of business operations, keeping used products out of landfills, and relying on materials that can naturally and safely break down so that they can be funneled into the production of another good. While the most radical shifts to a circular economy will happen in large companies, it’s an idea that we continue to think about as The Howling Fern grows.
To learn more about the circular economy, we recommend visiting The Ellen MacArthur Foundation website.