Making environmentally-responsible products is hard, so kudos to M.E. Heuck Co., houseware manufacturer, for even trying. After more than a year of work with their partner FirstCarbon Solutions, they have unveiled ZEROCA Carbon Neutral Cookware. Yeah, they had to buy offsets to make it totally carbon-neutral, but first they did their best to tamp down emissions in every area they could. They also sourced their materials as responsibly as possible: The handles are made from 'farm-managed' bamboo, and the steel is 100 percent recycled.

FirstCarbon helped M.E. Heuck conduct an "independent analysis of manufacturing process, including the supply chain behind M.E. Heuck’s own facilities," reports Heather Clancy at SmartPlanet. "Data considered included energy usage, raw material usage, packaging, solid waste and transportation emissions." Based on that audit, they wrestled down environmental impact across the board.

Chris McCarthy, president of M.E. Heuck, said one of the areas that needed the most attention from his company surrounded how to find partners that could provide non-stick coatings for its products that didn’t contain substances harmful to the environment and to humans and animals, such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

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*M.E. Heuck made many of the final decisions for Zeroca based on whether or not it could apply them to other product lines and make the process repeatable.

With luck, this process gets easier going forward. But it illustrates just how hard it is to be a pioneer in sustainable sourcing and manufacturing in just about any industry.

There's a fine line between greenwashing and real sustainability, and it's easy to argue that we should all be living in yurts and eating out of cookware made from dung, but if the future is going to be at all livable, it will take many, many commitments like the one made by M.E. Heuck.