When I first perused the green product shopping website LivingECHO, my first thought what a great site for one stop shopping. I could click on many different organic and sustainable products from various environmentally minded companies and buy them right from the same site. Think of an open food market place where there are all these vendors and everyone has a table to sell their wares. In essense a win-win for the consumer and green businesses.
How did I land on LivingECHO’s website? I recently received an email from Ken Spector touting the Company”s concept. Usually, when another company sends me an email and tell me what a great site they are, I often shoot back a reply, while yawning from the same old same come-on that I get and ask “how so?”
What Different about LivingECHO?
Well, Spector of the Company rose to the Anna challenge, and replied why LivingECHO is different.
Many of you buy from such websites such as BuyGreen.com, Uncommon Goods, and Amazon.com just to name a few. Then there is also “direct link” sites which feature other company’s products. (Note, “direct link” sites is Anna-speak so don’t quote me on my use of that term.) They differ from the Amazon’s of the world since they simply connect you to the product’s website. Examples of green direct linker are Pristine Planet and Green Crawler . LivingECHO is the combination of the two but all the activity stays on their site.
According to Spector, what makes this site different than other web-based direct link sites, other sites “do not have order tracking, order processing, order management. You cannot add products to a cart, and a third party company cannot run a business through their site. When you click on buying a product, it merely opens up the product page with a tracking code on another site.” Spector further stated, that most direct link sites also don’t “have the backend software tools allowing for small to mid sized companies to sell their own products. We do order tracking, order processing, product management, and that is only the beginning. We are building some other wonderful business tools.”
In addition, I noticed sites such as BuyGreen.com, an online green store, was also selling their products on LivingECHO. The old agage rings true. Why have your eggs in one basket?
Whose Behind the Company?
Who are the visionaries behind the Company? Abram Santa Cruz and Jonathan Haun. I love to find out the “why” a Company is formed since it gives me such insight on how it is run. Abram Santa Cruz, the president, of the Company answered as follows:
“It started with me when my mother sent to live on my uncle’s farm. He taught me the values of caring for animals and caring for the earth which nurtures our food. I was 5 at the time and would spend three summers with him. Thereafter, I grew up in Arizona where I spent most of my free time playing sports; basketball, football, soccer, skiing & snowboarding, scuba diving, rock climbing, camping & fishing. Having spent so much time outdoors and in nature, I quickly became aware and concerned about environmental impacts of human activity. It wasn’t until a long trip through South America in 2005 that I wanted to commit the rest of my life towards giving back to the earth and towards building a sustainable future. I spent some time volunteering for Tree People and Heal the Bay in Los Angeles and one day came up with the idea to start LivingECHO.”
Spector wrote me about Jonathan, CTO of the Company:
“He grew up on an organic farm. As organic farmers, his parents taught him to leave the planet in a better state then when he arrived. Like all of us, he has read about changing weather patterns and increasing toxic waste accumulating in our oceans and on land, and he wanted to make a change to help better the planet.
Jonathan met Abram Santa Cruz, the President of LivingECHO through a friend, and together they devised LivingECHO as a comparative shopping site for ecoproducts, which also focuses on environmental education.
Jonathan has devised and follows a concept he calls the ‘No Trash Diet’ which basically states that ‘when buying food, you can’t buy anything that produces trash’– no packaging, except that which bio-degrades. This type of diet eliminates loads of waste. If you eat candy, for example, you have to make it yourself. If you are a meat eater, chances are you will have to get your food from a local butcher, because if you purchase meat from a super market, it’s packaged in trash most of the time. This diet encourages those following it to buy locally, eliminates trash, and creates a healthier diet. The diet also makes the follower much more aware of ways of making far less of a detrimental impact on our planet.”
How can I sell my wares on the website?
After reading what LivingECHO is all about, is your company a good fit to sell your products or services on the site? Here are the minimum standards as of this date. The requirements may change as the Company continues to grow:
“Food: Made With Organic Ingredients: Made with a minimum of 70% organic ingredients with strict restrictions on the remaining 30% including no GMOs (genetically modified organisms) For more info on Organically grown food, please visit http://www.organic.org/home/faq.
Products made from timber: Products made from timber: Must come from sustainably managed forests (See Forest Stewardship Council Certificate below) or must be reclaimed and made into new products.
Clothes: Must be at least 80% organic or made from recycled materials and also must be 90% recyclable.
Electrical Appliances: Must meet or exceed Energy Stars certifications, must be made from recycled materials, or must be used and made in such a way that the intent is to preserve or revive the environment through sustainability.
Services: Must be for the intent of preserving or reviving the environment through sustainable practices.
All other products: Must be made from recycled or sustainable materials and be made for the intent of preserving the environment through sustainable manufacturing practices.”
Interested? See here for more information about selling your services or products as well as the commission fee schedule.
How about the consumer side?
How about us, consumers? We have covered the seller side. So my skeptical green-self rears her wagging finger and says “so how is LivingECHO vetting out who is green or not.” Kind of like how Santa decides who is naughty or nice. The Company has established their own green rating system ranging in scale from 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest green rating that a product could get. The rating system takes into account the manufacturing process, packaging, as well as the product.
“Our providers give us the following information on their products:
Recycled? How much of the product is made from recycled materials Recyclable?
How much of the product can be recycled or reused in other ways.
Energy Efficiency? Provided to them by Energy Star or a third party.
Eco-Friendly Packaging? How eco-friendly a products packaging is.
Organic? How much of the product is organic.
Biodegradable? How much of the product is biodegradable.”
The site gives you the ability to have a side by side comparison of products that you want to buy. However, unlike an Amazon site, it does not compare prices of different companies who sell that a particular product. Perhaps in time, when more products are added to the site as well as more green products become available.
Green Rating System?
To be honest, their green rating system could be improved, but is not bad. At least they are trying. They have to rely on the companies to tell the truth as well as know what in their products. Many companies may not know since they import pieces or parts of their products.
In addition, the product is not rated based upon the chemicals used in making the product. I eyed a product that I liked, which is made of plywood. My first thought is the company used regular plywood which contains formaldehyde. After inquiring about the product, I was advised that it did not.
However, Spector said, given my question, they are going to add to their questions. In my opinion, their ratings are as good as the questions being asked. In the Company’s defense, it all goes back to the same problem. Lack of uniform standards to prevent chemicals from being used in our products. I still feel you have to do your homework and LivingECHO’s green rating system is only a starting place.
I would love to see a point system to award people for giving product reviews. It could be green but fall apart. So, how green is then? Perhaps, after you get a certain amount of points you could get a certain percentage off a product. I believe consumers like to hear from other consumers. I always read the negative comments first on Amazon when I am looking at a product.
What Companies are popular on the site? Spector replied:
- Let me know your thoughts about the site?
- Would you shop there or would you look for the best price first?
- Does it contain a lot of the products you would want to buy?