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How to assess ‘sustainable’ products and your own impact as a consumer

A side view of two smart watches, one on top of the other
Some of Apple’s new watches will be carbon neutral, the company announced this month. | Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

These days, brands are all about selling you something more sustainable. In just the past week, we’ve seen Apple launch its first carbon-neutral products and Amazon start to share pollution reports for individual devices.

GM sponsored a major hub for events during New York City’s Climate Week, coinciding with a United Nations climate summit. I walked past its electric vehicles displayed in a conference hall outside a panel about living in a changing climate.

Down the hall, I grabbed “locally sourced, plant-based nourishments” from a cafeteria featuring recipes by Hellmann’s (maker of the mayonnaise). Trying to decide between a chicken farro bowl and a Tuscan kale salad, I realized that the numbers on the menu didn’t represent calories…

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