Our Editorial & Review Process
At Grow Ensemble, we’re driven to build a better world. An important part of how we do that is pursuing an open and transparent relationship to you, our community of readers and listeners.
You deserve to know how we make money, and as well as our process for creating the content we do and conducting our various product and company reviews for our Buy Ensemble Directory.
Product & Company Review Process
Grow Ensemble’s Buy Ensemble content exists to make finding sustainable products and better-for-the-world companies to support easier. We started this section of the site originally out of self-interest.
For whatever our needs were, we wanted to find high-quality sustainable products that we knew were supporting better-for-the-world brands and people. We wanted to use our occasional purchases and gifting to cast a vote for the world we want to live in.
And so, we wanted to offer the same opportunity to you, our readers. So together, we all can cast votes with our dollars for the world we want to create.
Since launching our Buy Ensemble content, our team has spent hundreds of hours testing, researching, and reviewing the products and companies you see listed on this website.
We evaluate any product or company regardless of the category along these three broad factors:
Assessing the level of “sustainability” of a product or company can be challenging.
One’s definition of sustainability might vary from ours. We see sustainability on a spectrum. If sustainability were binary (yes or no), you could make the case that no (or extremely few) companies would in fact be sustainable.
Most companies are on a journey of sustainability. Companies we regard as the utmost leaders in their respective categories are year after year still finding ways to reduce, offset, and reverse any negative impacts they create.
And so, this is something that we keep in mind. No companies or singular products are completely “sustainable,” but some are more sustainable than others.
In each category however, we are reviewing a product’s “sustainability” from a variety of angles; circularity, materials, durability (also in performance), energy used, shipping & transport, packaging, and more.
This can be somewhat limited to what information a company offers. Do they publish their life cycle analyses publicly? Third-party auditing? Supply chain transparency?
Transparency and reporting is key to assessing a product’s sustainability.
We do lean on a variety of certifications for these evaluations where appropriate:
In the context of commerce, where one party benefits from profiting off the exchange, we’ve chosen to approach scenarios without much transparency with extreme skepticism.
Alongside sustainability, we are also heavily evaluating a company’s perceptible ethics. We want to ensure we aren’t just supporting better-for-the-world products, but as well, better-for-the-world business people behind them.
This is where transparency and authenticity play a large factor.
How well can we know who is behind the product we are potentially purchasing? Are factories and the supply chain disclosed? Do we know what the working conditions are along the supply chain? If in food and agriculture, can we verify how the animals are treated in the process?
We dig through a company’s documentation (if available) to see what we can verify or not. Again, as stated with our sustainability analysis, we likewise approach this with heightened skepticism if little/no information is provided.
And as well, we do appreciate relevant certifications here; Certified B Corporation, Fair Trade, and others.
Then, there’s product performance. While listed third here on this list, this isn’t our last consideration. We diligently attempt to balance both the considerations for a product’s sustainability and as well that it actually meets (and hopefully exceeds) the needs for the purchase you’re making anyways!
We know that sustainable products and sustainable businesses won’t be the norm if consumers feel like they need to compromise on product performance or quality for the sake of sustainability.
Gladly, we don’t feel this is necessary any longer—although finding the right product can sometimes require more digging (that’s where we come in).
So for every product, we’re considering how it performs compared to all alternatives (not just the sustainable alternatives).
We want the products that you find here at Grow Ensemble and choose to purchase to be of exceptional quality. Good for your user experience, and good for the planet and the people affected.
While you might be like us, to where we’d maybe compromise on performance for the sake of the more environmentally friendly/ethical purchase…we are adamant about seeking out opportunities where we don’t have to.
Do you test every product?
We attempt to! But we can’t always directly do so.
We do try to personally get our hands on as many of the products that we review as we can. However, we review hundreds of products every year and that can’t always be possible, or sustainable, frankly.
So, for when we can’t obtain products ourselves we like to work with our community (you!) for support. Our Grow Ensemble team is a member of a variety of different online/offline communities.
Matched with our own research, we’ll solicit the input of others whose perspectives we can trust.
We have built relationships with plenty of brands in the sustainable sphere—we are often able to obtain products at no cost that we can then review and share our experiences with you.
We do want to stress (and we communicate this with any/all brands), the exchange of products does not and cannot influence our reviews. Our priority is to create honest and objective evaluations of the sustainable products we share with you.
We want you to find the work that we do here useful, and we also want to be useful in the charge to encourage businesses to be more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable. The more honest and diligent our reviews, both positive and negative, the more we satisfy those two goals.
Do companies pay you to review their products?
No, not directly.
Companies do not compensate us directly to review their products or to place any of their products in articles, videos, etc.
Grow Ensemble does have sponsors as part of our Partner Program, however, brands do not have the ability to purchase any product placement or sponsored content.
In the earliest years of this blog sponsored content was a means of income that we explored. We quickly found the engagements to be far too transactional vs. educational/mission-inspired and that there was too great of a risk of compromising the quality of our content overall.
Now, this blog is sustained through sponsors through our Ensemble Partner Program, display ads, and affiliate commissions.
Affiliate Commissions – For some of the brands listed on our site, we do earn commissions for purchases made through our links to their website. You can learn more about our various affiliate partnerships.
If you have any questions about our editorial and/or review processes at all, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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