Environmentally Friendly Manufacturing : What Should You Expect From Brands?

Have you noticed that more and more brands market themselves sustainable lately? It is insane and there is a fair amount of non-sense around that topic. The last crazy marketing strategy I spotted
was from a jewellery marketplace who contacted me to promote ethical shopping while linking to their website that stocks Rolex. I can’t wait to see the day where Rolex will be Environmentally friendly manufacturing.

As you probably understood now, eco manufacturing is the latest trend and while the collective consciousness of sustainable shoppers increases, greenwashing rises. H&M, Zara, Ikea and many more claimed to be eco-friendly which results in huge polemics within the sustainable niche. Read more here.

In those unreliable times, you are allowed to ask yourself: what does Environmentally friendly manufacturing even mean? And what should I expect from a brand who claims to produce in an eco-friendly way? To help you in your reflection, I go through manufacturing process step by step.

1) Design, The First Step Of Environmentally Friendly Manufacturing

Environmentally friendly manufacturing should start here! You can Google “Environmentally friendly manufacturing” and see what shows up. All blog posts and articles give businesses a few ideas about how to be conscious while they manufacture. Sadly, I believe they miss an essential point.

Environmentally friendly manufacturing begins with a product that is made to last


And that is why there is misconception about what really is eco-friendly and why greenwashing became so big. Environmentally Friendly is not only about reducing the impact during the production process. It is about designing a high-quality product that will last. Besides, it must give people the opportunity to take great care of it for many years.

If a company decides to manufacture a product with a short lifespan, is accused of planned obsolescence or makes it difficult for you to repair, it cannot be sustainable.

2) Sourcing For Environmentally Friendly Manufacturing

The key step for Environmentally friendly manufacturing 
The fabrics and materials that a company sources have a huge impact on how environmentally friendly the manufacturing is. So, take a close look at them. Ask yourself the three following questions to determine if a company is a green manufacturer.

A) Is it using sustainable materials?

According to the common objective, “Textile colouring and treatment releases 72 toxic chemicals into water supplies, 30 of which remain there permanently2”

So, make sure that the brand uses natural fibres to avoid both air and water pollution. In particular, look for organic materials because companies can’t grow them with pesticides. Also, spot microplastic and run away from them because they end up in our drinking water and even our food.

B) Is it sourcing locally?

You want brands to source their fabrics as locally as possible for two main reasons. Firstly, because it reduces the importation and shipping miles, so the carbon footprint is lower.
Secondly, if they source locally, you can trust that they monitor their partners supply chain and ethos. Indeed, they have more visibility and control if those are close. They may ask them to reduce their packaging and confirm that they manufacture in an eco-friendly as well for instance.

C) Does the company upcycle?

According to the common objective, every tonne of discarded textiles that is reused or recycled can save up to 11 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. So, one of the best way to limit the manufacturing impact for a company is to use recycled materials and to up cycle. To successfully up cycle, brands can:

  • Collaborate with local charities to get access to donation
  • Reuse their own waste
  • Contact other brands that might have a lot of waste

If you spot any of the below on a company’s website, you might trust that they reduce their manufacturing impact.

3) The Environmentally Friendly Manufacturing

The real process Manufacturing is very greedy and polluting because running a production line simply requires a lot of energy. According to the common objective: “The main sources of air pollution are likely to be boilers, use of thermo packs and diesel generators, which release gaseous pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, suspended particulate matter and nitrogen oxide.”

To understand what actions a company takes regarding this part of its supply chain, have a look at how they try to contain those emissions. For instance, a brand such as Amerisleep works in a closed chamber that captures emissions before they ever leave the factory.

Renewable energy is another clue that a manufacturer tries to reduce its impact. If a company produces its own renewable energy or contracted a green energy supplier, it largely reduces its impact. Finally, look for smaller actions manufacturers might implement: light bulb, servers and banks.

4) Waste

Last but not least! As you read earlier, waste should be reused so research how a manufacturer disposes of its waste. Reusing or donating it to another company that upcycles is the best.

5) Does the manufacturer offset?

That step is an extra! Unfortunately, most businesses, organisations and people including me still have a carbon footprint. Ideally, we stop contributing to all emissions but meanwhile we should aim to be carbon neutral. And offsetting is a good tool to achieve it.

To offset, a company calculates its C02 emissions and compensates them by planting trees. While it does not capture the exact same amount of CO2 right now, it remains a great step towards a better tomorrow.

I hope that the questions I shared with you in that article enlightened you on what Environmentally friendly manufacturing means.

However, keep in mind that manufacturing is only one part of the supply chain and that so much more needs to be considered. How does a company ship to you? What packaging does it use? How ethical is it? How is everyone paid and treated?

If you have any questions, please let me know in comments!

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, all the opinions and ideas in that blog post are mine and I would never recommend anything I do not trust myself.