The Janum Marketplace Tackles Supply Chain Issues and Greenwashing in Consumer Products

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Ever wondered where your favorite eco-friendly item came from or what its supply chain actually looked like? I sure do. Supply chains and supply chain management have become so complex and convoluted these days, it is the number one issue that plaques sustainability initiatives and fosters greenwashing claims. One entrepreneur from San Francisco, Julian Coleman, probably had the same questions when he founded Janum.

Janum is a unique online marketplace launched September 15, 2011, with the aim of making long supply chains transparent so that consumers, brands and producers all benefit. For every product sold on Janum the company shows consumers, through facts and videos, the places and people who made them, the fabrication steps, the ingredients and their impact on human and environmental health.

Julian Coleman, CEO of Janum, explains the concept,

“As supply chains are getting longer and more global, consumers and producers rarely see each other. In the past with local production, seeing the person who made the products gave consumers confidence and trust in what they were buying. And when producers could see who they were selling to, they took care and pride in what they produced. Consumers in turn respected and valued the products they bought. I wanted to bring these values back, through our “Show, Not Tell” mission.”

How Does Janum Verify the Supply Chain?

First Things First- Innovation: For Janum to consider a product for its marketplace, it needs to be innovative. They look for low impact, non-toxic and inspiring concepts.

Cycle Analysis: Once a product is singled out for innovative-ness, it goes through a thorough life impact analysis through experts in the field. If everything checks out the team moves on to field verification.

Transparency: Janum documents the entire process and brings it to customers. If the product or company does not permit complete transparency, Janum refuses to bring business. Janum requires its producers to share information about their business practices and allow inspection of their business for public consumption. Janum conducts a streamlined life cycle assessment [LCA], visually records how products are made and shares this footage with the consumer in real-time, via the Janum blog.

Adding Brand Value

For brands, this is an opportunity to utilize transparency and authenticity to gain consumer trust. With all the prevalent greenwashing, consumers rarely believe what brands tell them, and the proliferation of eco-labels only adds to consumer confusion. If brands show consumers their supply chains, they can “localize” them and humanize their producers, thereby enhancing brand value. Janum is also working with the right kind of businesses- other social enterprises like cooperatives that need the support and channels to spread their wings.

Janum’s Current Product Line-up

Janum currently offers two products: the Cleaner Cloth (a two-sided durable cleaning tool made from organic cotton and jute and designed by the Janum team to decrease the use of sponges and paper towels) and Holy Lama Soaps (a line of natural soaps packaged in compostable palm shells and made by a woman’s cooperative in Kerala, India).

Watch the video on the Cleaner Cloth!

This is just the beginning for Janum. It was conceived in Amsterdam, developed in India and its foundation was laid in San Francisco. Their mission to inspire a new generation of conscious consumption, bring transparency to commerce and production, and empowering consumers to make informed purchasing decisions is indeed catching on.


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