Last month, Trestle, a Portland-based technology company, announced the release of the myTrestle web browser button. The button is a plug-in currently available for the Google Chrome web browser, allowing users to learn about a company’s sustainability practices while shopping for their favorite products online.
Conscious consumerism is growing. Although millennials are not solely responsible for the growth of the movement, they are driving the conversation, according to many analyses including this one on Forbes. While millennials generally have less to spend than the previous generations due to lower earnings, fewer assets and less wealth, the group is 73 percent more likely to spend more money on products with a proven sustainability track record.
A 2019 analysis by Shopify, a leading commerce platform for entrepreneurs to start, grow and manage a business, also identified transparency and corporate social responsibility as key trends for growth in a rapidly changing retail environment.
While many consumers say they want to be more socially conscious while shopping, there are challenges. For one, it’s often difficult to tell what claims are true. An ongoing challenge, long coined “greenwashing,” is the practice of promoting false or misleading environmental claims through a brand’s marketing and PR efforts. With the rise in online shopping and the plethora of brands to choose from, it has become incredibly time-consuming for shoppers to research the veracity of product claims and what companies truly share their values.
That is where the myTrestle button comes in. According to the company, the myTrestle button draws from extensive research and data to provide a snapshot of a company’s environmental, labor and animal practices. Trestle says that the button can also be used to inform customers if the product they are shopping for is made in the United States, uses organic materials, and to what degree the company operates with transparency. Dedicated to making conscious consumerism convenient, Trestle aims to aggregate the data that consumers need to make smart shopping decisions – a huge task that other technology companies are taking on.
For example, another app that can help fashionistas who are interested in the sustainability of what they wear is Good on You, which challenges consumers to “Wear the change you want to see.” Good on You looks at brands’ impact on workers in their supply chain, environmental impact and their use of animal products. There is a five-point ranking system, from “Great” to “Not Good Enough” and “We Avoid.”
As the conscious consumerism movement continues to grow, technology-based tools like the myTrestle button and Good on You could become increasingly more common and important to shoppers. Access to data and aggregated information are key to consumers who want to make the best possible and informed shopping decisions.
In a pitch presented by Trestle Co-Founder Jennifer Johnson at the Portland Incubator Experiment Demo Day earlier this year, she urged both consumers and the media to use tools like myTrestle for shopping, spreading awareness and education. As Johnson other sustainability leaders have made clear, in talking about our values and sharing resources, we can all play a part in pushing a more sustainable economy forward.
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