More and more companies are committing to sustainability by ditching unnecessary waste, sourcing eco-conscious materials, and adopting better manufacturing methods. We love seeing companies progress, but we also recognize it’s very difficult (and sometimes impossible) to build an environmentally responsible business today. Despite our collective awareness of climate change, there aren’t as many sustainable choices (from materials to packaging) as one might hope. And, the options that do exist must be vetted very carefully. Regular people aren’t the only ones who fall prey to greenwashing - businesses also get fooled by “green” suppliers and manufacturers that don’t actually care about the earth.
We believe it will become much easier to build a sustainable business in the future. But until then, we must do the hard work. We must make heartbreaking decisions and compromises at every moment in the process to stay true to our principles. We must conduct endless hours of research to find eco-friendly options and then verify their credibility. And, of course, we must pay higher costs for materials, manufacturing, and packaging that meet our sustainability standards. It’s a dizzying, emotionally exhausting process. But, it’s what the future asks of us.
What is Life-Centered Design?
Our design and sustainability practices are influenced by Life-Centered Design, which focuses on the “ecological, socio-economical, and happiness costs of … production, distribution, and disposal” when it comes to goods. Life-Centered Design is an evolution of Human-Centered Design, which has dominated much of design discourse over the last two decades. Human-Centered Design asks businesses to address everyday problems using empathy for the end user. Life-Centered Design, on the other hand, asks businesses to address global issues using empathy for the environment. It encourages long-term thinking, circular economies, and the creation of affordable products that last - really last - thus reducing the need to replace often and create waste.
While the tenets of Life-Centered Design set a strong foundation for Chariot’s sustainable business practices, we’re also guided by these principles.
Principle 1: Don’t make the customer clean up your mess.
Some brands put the onus on you (the customer) to make their company sustainable. For example, a brand might say, “We’re now eco-friendly because our packaging is compostable!” If packaging is the only eco-friendly aspect to this brand, then they’re relying on you to do the work of sustainable waste management (and also assuming you have a composter).
We do everything we can minimize our ecological footprint before our aroma diffuser gets to your hands. We don’t want to put the responsibility on you to make our business ecologically sound.
Principle 2: Minimize your travel footprint.
We have the ability to get materials from anywhere and work with manufacturers around the world, but the environmental cost of transportation is high. As often as possible, we source materials from regional suppliers for our natural air freshener to lower carbon footprint.
Principle 3: Make only what you need.
Additionally, we only want to create what meets demand so we’re building a waitlist and working with future customers to identify which colors we’ll produce. This enables us to conserve materials and energy during the manufacturing process of our natural air freshener.
The Road Ahead
This is just the beginning. As Chariot grows, we plan to evolve our sustainability efforts by becoming carbon negative and exploring new materials that can further reduce our environmental impact.