How To Avoid Greenwashing?

Brands probably lie to you way too often! So you gotta learn How to avoid Greenwashing and make that stop!

Have you ever landed on a so-called sustainable brands’ website looking for a new garment but somehow you are not too sure if you should believe them or not? You read everywhere on the homepage and on socials that they are eco-friendly but when you go through the about page, you have some doubts about their intentions…

Yup that happened to me too and that is super common. One of the most recurrent questions I receive from you is: “I found that brand, they claim to be sustainable but I am not sure. What are your thoughts?”

First, I am super proud of you for asking because it proves that you are aware of greenwashing and that you challenge yourself to not fall for it!

But we’re gonna go deeper! After reading that post, you’ll be empowered to make your own judgement and never be lied to by brands again. Ready to break free from dodgy marketing? Read until the end, I have a surprise for you!

What is greenwashing?

If you wanna put an end to brands manipulating you, it’s important that you understand what greenwashing is. According to the cambridge dictionary: greenwashing implies” behaviour or activities that make people believe that a company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is”

In short, when a brand green washes you, it lies to you about its sustainable practices to sell you a service or product that has nothing eco-friendly or ethical. Why? Because they know it is a strong argument, that consumers look for it and they wanna surf on the “trend” to make more sales. It’s pure marketing!

But we don’t want that to happen to you, do we? 

So let me share with you How to avoid Greenwashing.

How to avoid Greenwashing by reviewing the supply chain

How To Spot Greenwashing
Textile Supply Chain, Illustration by Lianne Middeldorp.

That sounds a lot more difficult than it is! Picking up that new habit of asking yourself the right questions will empower you to discern the brands’ real intentions. To understand if a brand is really sustainable, I go through the manufacturing process and the whole supply chain step by step. 

Do not trust brands babe! Make your own research based on a list of objective questions that will lead you to your conclusion. The answer will then be crystal clear. 

Here is my list of questions to spot and avoid greenwashing:

  • Is the product made to last (Think about its design and materials)
  • Is it ethically made? (learn more below)
  • Does the brand use sustainable materials? (organic materials, natural fibers, upcycled or recycled materials, are they sourced locally?)
  • Is the brand vegan?
  • Is the packaging eco-friendly?
  • How is the manufacturing process like? (Do they reduce emissions, use green energies, capture emissions in some ways, offset emissions?)
  • How does the brand handle its waste?
  • Also, will the care of the product cause any pollution?
  • Finally, how can you dispose of the product when you can’t use it anymore?

To learn more about those questions, read that blog post.

How to avoid greenwashing by reviewing a brand’s ethical practices

If a brand claims to be sustainable but totally forgets to mention about its social impact, it’s a red flag! Sustainability covers both eco and ethical aspects. We can’t use them interchangeably. 

If a brand uses sustainable meaning eco-friendly, it probably does not know enough and lies to you about its real intentions. Or they just decided to not care about all problems related to sustainability which is potentially worse. 

Here is a list of questions you could go through to make your own judgment about brands’ social impacts: 

  • Does it pay its employees and other collaborators a living wage (Please note I use the term living wage and not minimum wage because the minimum is not enough to live decently)
  • Does the company guarantee safe working conditions in their offices, factories but also in their partner’s ones?
  • Who are their partners? You want to make sure that you know who they work with because if they don’t display it, if they try to hide it, they will never be hold accountable if an accident happens in those factories 
  • Who are the products made by? If you know who they are, it proves that they are transparent about who they work with and they can be held accountable. 
  • Are they audited or certified? Certifications are not everything but it can a good sign if the company you plan on buying from is certified
  • How do they make sure that their partners are following their rules? Do they have an audit system? 

A brand does not have to be perfect (right now at least) for you to make a purchase, we don’t live in a perfect world unfortunately. But if they are transparent about their progress left to make it’s a pretty good sign! 

If you wanna learn more about the social impact of the fashion industry, read that post.

How to avoid greenwashing on socials

If you really wanna stop being lied to by brands, you need to learn how to spot their marketing red flags. I gathered the 5 most common practices so you know when a brand is messing with you. If you notice one of these, you have two options: ignore them and never buy from them or call them out!

Be cautious about:

Brand ambassador programs

If a brand gets in touch with you and asks you to be an ambassador, say NO! They are probably looking for new clients and they play with your ego and the insta fame to convince you to buy their s**t. Even if it’s at a discounted rate. 

The so-called eco influencer

That person produces loads of content promoting many gadgets and wearing different outfits on every single picture. Their moto: buy buy buy (eco?) Fashion outfits. Their bio: ethical fashion advocate. Well, I am ok with eco content creators sharing their last finds with you. But I advise that you take a closer look at their content: do they sometimes explain that we need to stop over-consuming? Are they proud outfit repeaters? Do they try to reduce their environmental impact? Or do they only buy as many eco products as they would buy fast fashion items? Use your critical thinking here. 

The supposingly sustainable brand

That one shouts loud and clear that it is sustainable. However, when you look at their Instagram, there is no information about what sustainability is. Even worse, when you look at their website there is NO information at all about their ethical and eco practices. 

The pure greenwasher

Those are mainly big traditional retailers such as H&M. They do try to adopt sustainable practices, such as: using natural fibres, looking into some circularity programs… While it is a great step forward, I invite you to ask yourself: considering that sustainability is about social impacts as well as environmental impact, how does that brand treat its employees? Also, think about their core business model. Is the aim to produce more more more so you buy again; again and again? If so, they encourage overconsumption and that can’t be sustainable. 

Here we are babe! Now you have some basic knowledge to never be lied to by brands again. It may seem like a lot, but don’t worry, practice makes perfect. After going through that process a few times, it will get easier, you got this!

Go further 

I did not want to overwhelm you a lot more but I have a ton more to say. Now you might wonder:

  • Why do you still buy from brands even though you are not 100% sure that they are sustainable? 
  • How can I answer those questions? I need a concrete example!
  • What’s the next step when you notice a brand is not sustainable? 
  • How can you encourage them to change?
  • How can you convince people to double check brands’ ethos? 
  • What are really sustainable alternatives to the brand you meant to buy from? 

If you resonated with one of those questions, I can tell that you are ready to up level your sustainable journey. If you feel like you are ready to bring your sustainable lifestyle to the next level, I’d love us to work together. 

Eco Coach

The eco warrior you wanna become and that will make you so proud of yourself is only a few steps away from you.

Let me hold your hand to step into her and live in total alignment with your personal values. You got this, let’s make you proud!

To learn more about my coaching services, click here.

PS: I am offering a special price for my first 10 clients 🙂