Branch’s purpose-driven collection of delightful products
We’ve chosen to celebrate one of our favorite eco-retailers today. If you’re unfamiliar with Blog Action Day, it’s a one day global collaboration to bring attention to an important issue. This year the topic is climate change. If you’d like to participate, there’s still plenty of time. Almost 10,000 blogs have gotten involved already. For a quick resource on climate change, we recommend 350.org, it’s a great place to start.
So why an eco-retailer and how does that apply to climate change? In a nutshell, because all kinds of activities contribute to increased greenhouse gases in the air, and one of those is the production of many of the products in our lives. Any retailer that makes it easier for us to buy consciously manufactured goods deserves recognition.
In our effort to highlight all kinds of better, and fortunately with a growing pool of wonderful manufacturers and retailers to choose from, we decided on Branch. They’re an online boutique of gifts and housewares with a welcome overlap of beautiful style and responsible design.
We saw a lot of ourselves in their description of why they do what they do and wanted to share it with you.
quoted from Branch’s manifesto:
Like a lot of folks, we enjoy shopping.
As a social activity, shopping gets us out into the various neighborhoods in our city, allowing us to connect with other people along the way. As a cultural excursion, it gives us a chance to discover what’s new and interesting in the world. And, of course, we derive some joy from finding just the right gift for someone, or for ourselves.
At the same time, there’s an element to shopping that we find quite troubling. We buy things that appeal to us – we love a product’s styling, for example – though we may have little idea of where a product comes from. What materials went into its manufacture? Did the wood used to make that chair contribute to deforestation in Asia? Were toxic chemicals used to create the lustrous finish? The people who actually fabricated the product – were they paid a fair wage and provided a safe, comfortable environment in which to do so? How far did the product have to come in order to get to the store, and how much fuel was used in that process?
And what of the lifespan of the products we buy? Eventually – sooner or later, but eventually – a product will outlive its useful life. What then? Does it get thrown away? Is it made such that it’ll sit in the landfill for hundreds (or even thousands) of years before it degrades? And in going through that process, will it release toxins into the environment?
These are all some pretty heavy thoughts, and they can really sap the joy from a fun day of shopping.
The fact is that many people are at least somewhat aware of the sobering factors of our consumptive lifestyle, but that doesn’t keep them (or us, for that matter) from buying things. As a culture, we’re practically bred to be shoppers – it’s a habit that runs deep and strong.
So in looking for a solution to the problems mentioned above, we’re taking a different approach. Instead of asking people to stop shopping (which is, of course, pretty impractical), what if we changed the paradigm of shopping itself? What if we could shop in a place that had already done the challenging thinking for us? A place where we could buy products that are wholly appealing on every level, but that are also manufactured and brought to market in such a way that we didn’t have to feel guilty about buying – or, eventually, disposing of – them?
This is the basis of the idea for Branch, an online store based in San Francisco.