As a consumer, you have likely wondered what percentage of recycled content goes into a product or what will happen to it when you throw it away. Thanks to Lola Digital Media’s CSS rating, you now have a snapshot of each product’s impact on the environment.

Meet the CSS rating and log. CSS stands for “Comprehensive Sustainability Score,” and you will see it popping up on buying guides across our network.

GearJunkie and sister publications within the AllGear network began implementing CSS scores on reviewed products in November, 2019.  Sites including GearJunkie, Switchback Travel, ExplorersWeb, and BikeRumor will list CSS alongside other common industry stats like price, weight, and materials used.

Comprehensive Sustainability Score, or CSS logo

CSS scores will distinguish products’ impact on the environment on a 1-to-100 scale. A graphic icon denotes a CSS number for each product listed in articles to help guide a readers’ purchasing decision.

The CSS is to be quantitative, research-based, and prominent in published articles. It will be a key determinant of which products Lola editors recommend in many articles.

“Our sustainability initiative will help consumers purchase products that have the least impact on the environment,” said Eric Phung, CEO of Lola Digital Media. “It will hopefully keep more trash out of landfills and reduce the carbon footprint of the products our readers research and click to purchase.”

CSS: How We Find It

This is the hard part. For each product, we must contact brands and research several factors. These include points of differentiation such as:

  • Percentage of recycled material
  • Clean energy used in production
  • Carbon offsets company purchases
  • Packaging waste created in shipping to (a) retailers and (b) consumers
  • Innovative sustainability practices implemented by the company
  • Other practices that may be industry or product specific

Our reporters research each product category before building a questionnaire for each buying guide. They then ask companies for these details, as well as verify them when we receive shipments. This can be as simple as noting how many polybags or styrofoam cubes are used in each box.

Upon receiving questionnaires, reporters score the answers on an agreed-upon scale. Because there is some subjectivity in some answers, two reporters or editors will score each questionnaire, and average the score of the two for a final total.

For transparency, please see below for our questionnaire for our buying guide on Best Down Jackets.

CSS Questionnaire: Best Down Jackets

  1. Does the jacket have traceable down (Responsible Down Standard, Advanced Global Traceable Down Standard, etc.)?
  2. Is the jacket PFC-free? If not, where are fluorocarbons used and how?
  3. How does the brand ship this jacket, both direct to consumers and to retailers? Does it use poly-bags, compostable bags, non-plastic packaging, or other unique methods?
  4. What percentage of the jacket uses recycled materials?
  5. Is the product bluesign certified?
  6. Does the brand purchase carbon offsets or use other methods to strive for carbon reduction.
  7. Does the brand use clean energy in production or office uses? How?
  8. How does the company address the end-of-life of the product? Does the brand offer repairs, a used marketplace, or recycling service? Is the product recyclable or compostable?
  9. Please mention other sustainability measures the company uses.