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How Commons Chooses Sustainable Brands

Commons Team
August 8, 2023

So much of our impact on the Earth is determined by how we spend our money. For example, when we purchase a shirt from a fast fashion brand, our money supports the manufacturing of plastic-based fabrics, the use of fossil fuel energy, excess plastic waste, and in most cases, unfair labor practices. 

Download the app to browse 300+ sustainable brands → 

But when we purchase a shirt from a sustainable brand, our money can support organic cotton production, renewable energy, zero-plastic manufacturing, and fair labor practices. These are business practices that leave the Earth better than we found it.

Commons is your trusted source for choosing sustainable brands. We help you find and select brands that are measurably lowering global emissions. In the app, you’ll find 300+ brands that are measurably reducing global emissions and responsibly stewarding our shared resources. 

How we evaluate sustainable brands

Through our rigorous evaluation process, brands receive a high-level rating based on their performance in our Carbon, Environmental, and Social criteria.

Commons evaluates and selects brands that meet at least one of these criteria: 

  • Low-emissions business models
  • Sustainable business practices

Low-Emissions Business Models

Our team assesses if a brand has a business model that inherently supports lower-emission choices. Commons recognizes these brands as sustainable.

Companies like public transit organizations and secondhand stores are inherently low-carbon solutions. By taking public transit instead of driving, you lower your per-mile emissions up 63%. By choosing a secondhand pair of jeans instead of buying new, you save about 33 kg CO2e emissions.

The Commons app highlights these transactions with the “Low Emissions” tag. These companies include: 

  • Secondhand or thrift stores: Shopping secondhand creates less demand for manufacturing new products, and keeps used items out of landfills.
  • Vegetarian or vegan restaurants: By bypassing animal products, these restaurants use less carbon-intensive ingredients.
  • Farmers markets: By supporting local farms, we lower the transportation emissions of our food, build biodiversity, and often support more organic and regenerative farming practices.
  • Public Transit: Taking public transit lowers the emissions per person, and creates less road congestion in our cities.
  • Bikes and Scooters: Using bikes and scooters lowers our per-mile emissions, and builds demand for more car-free infrastructure. 
  • Camping & Outdoors: Hiking and camping encourage spending time in nature instead of engaging in more carbon-intensive activities.
  • Climate Donations: Supporting causes that are taking action against the climate crisis.
  • Climate or environmental donations: Supporting causes that are taking action against the climate crisis.
  • EV Charging: Charging an EV instead of burning gasoline generates fewer emissions, especially when charging with renewable energy.
  • Renewable energy: Switching to renewable energy diverts our money from fossil fuel energy generation.
  • Solar Panels: Installing solar panels on your home promotes renewable energy, reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
  • Smart Thermostat: Smart thermostats help lower building energy use by regulating space heating and cooling, resulting in lower emissions.
  • Composting Services: Composting converts organic waste into soil carbon, avoiding landfill methane emissions.
  • Tailoring & Clothing Repair: Repairing your clothing and footwear reduces waste and limits the need for new products.

Sustainable Business Practices

To assess brands’ environmental and social impact, Commons analyzes company reports and other rigorous third-party evaluations and certifications. We consider carbon, ecological, and social implications when evaluating a company’s sustainable business practices. 

To evaluate carbon, we look into brands’ efforts to measure, reduce, and offset their carbon footprint. This accounts for companies’ efforts to quantify the greenhouse gases associated with their operations, supply chain, and production processes. We also account for emissions reduction targets and/or actions to measurably reduce emissions. Finally, we take into account meaningful emissions offsetting to avoid and absorb all or part of their footprint.

To evaluate social and ecological impact, we look into the transparency of companies’ supply chain reporting, water use, use of non-toxic materials, fair labor practices, and diversity and inclusion.

Climate Neutral Certified Brands

Climate Neutral is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that aims to eliminate individual and company emissions. Their label, Climate Neutral Certified, is a trusted, independent standard for climate neutrality. 

Commons partners with Climate Neutral, a rigorous certification process, to identify companies taking responsibility for their emissions. We chose Climate Neutral Certification as a criteria for Sustainable Brands because companies with the certification reduce and compensate for 100% of their emissions from making and delivering products and services. 

In the Commons app, purchases from these brands have a carbon footprint of zero.

You can search for Climate Neutral brands in Commons or on Climate Neutral’s website here.

B Corps

While B Corp certification is not currently part of our criteria for brand selection, we include information from companies’ publicly listed B Corp evaluations on their brand pages.

Certified B Corporations (aka B Corps) are companies verified by B Lab to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.

Every B Corp has a scorecard with sections on Governance, Workers, Community, Environment, and Customers.

B Corp audits companies’ environmental efforts based on their environmental management practices in addition to their impact on the air, climate, water, land, and biodiversity. 

Commons Team
August 8, 2023

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