Should you really feel like everybody in vogue is mendacity about their environmental affect, and have been questioning easy methods to keep away from greenwashing, that is for you.

I began within the sustainable vogue area in a time when nobody actually knew what they had been speaking about.

Again then, the individuals drawn into sustainable vogue had been fashions and influencers who couldn’t hack it in mainstream vogue. Conveniently for them, there was near no competitors within the environmentally pleasant vogue area.

So sustainable vogue was dominated by fashions who had no concept how garments had been truly made and had undoubtedly by no means been in a manufacturing facility. And, (in the event you actually need my sincere opinion) they had been all caustic personalities that had been outcast from vogue due to their problematic conduct.

Sustainable vogue was a poisonous place, filled with false environmental claims, led by non-experts – most of them are literally well-known for main cancel campaigns having different influencers and types erased from social media (not for the groundbreaking world-changing work they pretended to do).

And that leads us to the chaotic area that’s sustainable and moral vogue at the moment. If the principles really feel like they’re altering every single day, it’s as a result of they’re. And when you have been asking your self easy methods to keep away from greenwashing, and feeling like you find yourself with extra questions than solutions, you aren’t alone.

However, earlier than we get began.

Have you ever heard about the tremendous secret doc that everybody within the vogue trade makes use of, however nobody is speaking about? Most likely not. That’s as a result of you may’t discover it on Google or TikTok (consider me, I’ve tried).

It is a type I’ve used for over 13 years at each job I’ve ever had. Actually everybody from manufacturers to material suppliers use it, however you may’t discover it wherever publicly. 

One of the best half? It will probably minimize your sourcing time in half, and prevent tons of cash in product growth! That is the form of data consultants cost the massive bucks for. And, I am giving it away totally free till the top of the month. 

so, get able to make vogue startup life a complete lot simpler, and GRAB YOUR FREE DOWNLOAD OF THE NOT SO SECRET SOURCING DOC HERE


Now for the enjoyable half. I used to be impressed to write down this submit when an influencer I observe put out a listing of questions that clients ought to ask manufacturers in response to them asking her for assist in easy methods to keep away from greenwashing. Name me a masochist, however for some motive, I made a decision to click on on the submit being promoted on the gram, realizing full nicely that it could annoy me.

Truthfully, typically I believe my success is only fueled by rage. It’s what motivates me to maintain placing out all this free data and proceed working in direction of altering the style trade.

Anyway, I clearly wasn’t thrilled with the questions within the checklist, and it led to me scripting this submit you might be studying now.

Right here is how that is going to work. I’ll share with you the easy methods to keep away from greenwashing questions that the influencer suggests you ask manufacturers. Then I’ll clarify to you why they’re truly encouraging extra greenwashing and recommend higher questions you have to be asking as an alternative.



how to avoid greenwashing

Let’s begin at first with slightly backstory . . .

It began with a easy marketing campaign from the advocacy group Trend Revolution that requested clients to ask the manufacturers they love: “Who made my garments?”

In response to clients demanding solutions about the place their clothes got here from, manufacturers supplied photographs of their staff smiling and holding indicators that stated, “I made your garments.”

Should you can’t see how that is problematic, don’t fret, you aren’t alone. I’m going to spell all of it out for you proper now.

This was mainly the unique vogue greenwashing marketing campaign.

Here’s what went down.

In offering these photographs of minorities holding indicators subsequent to stitching machines, manufacturers needed to make their clients consider they knew their provide chain and subsequently, they had been moral, honest commerce, clear – you understand, all these acutely aware vogue buzz phrases.

Nevertheless it was all a facade.

First off, manufacturers chorused staff into taking the photographs for solely their very own profit. The factories and staff virtually NEVER benefited as a result of they had been by no means tagged within the pictures (manufacturers saved this secret so different manufacturers wouldn’t run out and steal their sources).

Then there was the mendacity.

Any model, even the unethical ones, may get staff to take these photographs. Having the photograph didn’t truly show something in regards to the model’s provide chain. However, for some motive, customers thought it did (as a result of that is what Trend Revolution was wrongfully promising on the time – saying, if a model can present an “I made your garments photograph”, they’re secure to purchase from).

In actuality, these “I made your garments” photographs gave customers this false sense of safety that firms participated in moral manufacturing when, in actuality, they didn’t. Some manufacturers had been actually discovering poor individuals on the road and paying them a greenback or two the maintain up the signal.

And final, let’s discuss in regards to the individuals within the photograph (in the event that they actually had been manufacturing facility staff).

Manufacturing facility staff hate these photographs. I’ve requested lots of of manufacturing facility staff at this level in the event that they take pleasure in these photographs, they usually all say they hate them (however they inform manufacturers they love them as a result of they do not wish to lose their enterprise for not complying). Numerous occasions, they’ve advised me they really feel like animals on the zoo and never human beings when they’re a part of these campaigns.

After they see their photographs on model web sites, they don’t really feel pleasure throughout the 10-minutes of fame. As an alternative, they really feel used and abused. And anybody that’s arguing in a different way, I can assure is a model utilizing the picture to promote extra merchandise.

Principally, a marketing campaign that was created to assist educate individuals easy methods to keep away from greenwashing, truly created extra of it.

And from there, customers went from asking “who made my garments” to asking lists of different inquiries to get manufacturers to show they had been moral (as a result of that is how the web works, we’re at all times making an attempt to outdo the very last thing).


how to stop greenwashing

The place are your entire merchandise/supplies sourced from and the way are they produced (particulars of every materials kind if there are a number of)? E.g. nations, certifications, together with swing tags, packaging, and so on.

That is an insane factor to ask. Interval. Full cease. I’m not even going to fake it is alright to ask a model this. As a result of it is not.

This query reveals simply how little individuals perceive about provide chain (sure, even the “professional” “influencers”).

Discover the query particularly asks “the place are ALL OF your merchandise…”

A model could possibly be working with lots of of various suppliers. Bear in mind, a bag provide chain, is completely different from a costume provide chain, is completely different from a denims provide chain. In case you are solely fascinated by one high, why on earth do you want all that data?

You don’t.

For some motive, influencers at all times assume that when speaking about easy methods to keep away from greenwashing the answer is a 20-page doc. Who has time to prepared one thing like that anyway?

So, the very first thing to do right here can be to slim down your query to what you wish to buy.

Not fascinated by truly buying something? Properly then, cease it with the questions easy methods to keep away from greenwashing questions, Nancy Drew.

If there’s something you have an interest in buying, I might rephrase the query like this:

“I’m very fascinated by your Pamala t-shirt, and I seen you say it’s 100% natural cotton however don’t have any natural cotton certifications. Is there a motive for this? Are you able to assist confirm that the highest is definitely natural?”

See the distinction within the query? Within the rephrased model:

  • You wish to purchase one thing from them.
  • You show you’ve got achieved your individual analysis. As a result of, you understand what the merchandise is made from however nonetheless have questions and are asking for extra specifics.

The primary is an instance of an uneducated and lazy buyer; the second is an instance of somebody who’s educated, doing their half, and asking a model to satisfy them midway.

Folks that come to manufacturers demanding for full provide chain audits are like infants throwing a tantrum. They need what they need, for no actual motive, and can lose their cool till they get it.

Don’t be an moral vogue child. Be a cool knowledgeable shopper.


what is greenwashing

The place do your merchandise find yourself on the finish of their life? How can they be recycled and saved into the useful resource loop?

IMO within the easy methods to keep away from greenwashing dialog, the top lifetime of sustainable merchandise is the patron’s duty, not the manufacturers. As a result of when manufacturers take over, it is not at all times what’s greatest for the client.

What do I imply by this?

Let’s check out very well-known sustainability resale program, that many mainstream media retailers have deemed revolutionary.

That is going to get mathy. However I promise it’s value it.

So right here is how this system works. Let’s name the model, The Greatest Clothes Firm Ever. You possibly can promote your used objects on the manufacturers web site. And after you make a sale, you get 100% of your sale in The Greatest Clothes Firm Ever retailer credit score.


Let’s have a look at the retail math. Say you purchase considered one of their 100% natural cotton tops that retails for round $250. The fee to make this in India can be about $30, add $5 for delivery and duties. That’s $35.

Okay, so let’s assume they revenue $215 off the sale.

Now you might be bored with the shirt and need a new one. So that you promote your shirt on their resale web site for say $100. And get $100 The Greatest Clothes Firm Ever retailer credit score (discover you don’t get money – that is achieved for a motive, and I get to it).

So now The Greatest Clothes Firm Ever has made one other $100, and you’ve got the chance to purchase one thing new.

Perhaps you need a new shirt to interchange the outdated one. The one drawback is you solely have $100 in retailer credit score, not the $250 you want to your new buy. So it is advisable spend a further $150.

Yeah, you are feeling like you might be getting a superb cope with your credit score from outdated garments, however let’s have a look at the numbers.

The Greatest Clothes Comapny Ever already received your $100 from the sale of your outdated shirt and now they’re getting one other $150 out of your checking account. That may be a complete of $250 for them. So once more, they’re getting the identical revenue on the shirt of $215.

Enterprise as traditional for The Greatest Clothes Firm Ever.

However you, the client, finally ends up being the loser.

As a result of, money is king.

Locking your cash into their buy-back credit score system lets you solely store from their retailer.

You possibly can have taken your $100 and gone actually to another store on the planet. However now, if you wish to use your credit score, you might be basically pressured to make one other buy from them.


And that, my mates, is how firms flip your one-time order right into a two-time order, doubling their backside line. All within the title of environmental profit.

And right here is one other startling determine. Many People neglect about their reward card cash. It’s estimated that greater than three billion {dollars} is misplaced yearly to reward playing cards which might be by no means redeemed.

So, that’s the reason I hate this query.

Once you put the facility within the arms of the model to do the do-gooding for you, usually you, the patron, is the one getting taken benefit of.

As an alternative of asking manufacturers this query in your easy methods to keep away from greenwashing quest, my recommendation is to donate your used clothes, or promote them for money utilizing considered one of these standard apps/websites:

Or, you may recycle your outdated garments by yourself with an organization like

Or strive taking part in a clothes swap. That is additionally an important place to community and meet new mates. To discover a clothes swap close to you, take a look at Fb or Eventbrite for native clothes swap occasions.


how to spot greenwashing

How are your merchandise shipped to clients? E.g, packaging, and carbon impartial delivery.

Delivery has turn into one of many influencers’ favourite matters on easy methods to keep away from greenwashing.

There are endless arguments about one of the best ways to buy. Does it take much less gasoline to get in your automotive and go to the mall 4 occasions a yr? Or much less gasoline to ship all the pieces to your house. What in regards to the returns in delivery from eco-conscious firms like hire the runway?

For proper now I simply wish to discuss carbon credit. And, let me begin off by saying I hate carbon credit.

They’re such a lazy approach of getting credit score (actually) for not truly doing something. I gained’t even bore you with the entire causes carbon credit are greenwashing and form of outdated. If you wish to study extra, scroll to the underside of this text and I will share some instructional sources.

As an alternative, with regards to delivery, here’s what it is best to care about:


The heavier one thing weighs, the extra it prices to ship and the extra gasoline it takes to maneuver it.

So, in the event you actually care about delivery, you wish to make certain firms are delivery in light-weight compostable poly mailers with no added fluff like tissue paper or different “unboxing expertise” nonsense.

As an alternative of this influencer query, I need you to write down a request.

“Are you able to please ship my merchandise in a easy mailer with no added tissue paper or extras?”

Increase, you’re taking management of your individual carbon footprint! As an alternative of taking the straightforward approach out with carbon credit.


examples of greenwashing

Who makes your merchandise? (as particular as potential, please). Other than the individuals who make your merchandise, inform me about your crew tradition and the way your head workplace/workers are handled. E.g. dwelling wages, bonuses, workers wellbeing.

Please keep in mind my vogue revolution story right here. Ritu made your garments . . . now what? What does that show? Does asking this query actually assist you determine easy methods to keep away from greenwashing?

You’ve received a face and a reputation . . . however not rather more.

This can be a difficult query designed to make you assume you might be related to the model, when in actuality, the individual you are feeling you might be serving to could possibly be made up.

Yeah, I stated what I stated. It may all be a lie.

Now, let’s discuss manufacturers getting back from their sourcing journeys and speaking about all the pieces they realized and the individuals they met so as to show they perceive their provide chains.

I want to add that almost all manufacturers go and go to their factories for 2 weeks out of the yr. There’s a lot they miss in that brief period of time. It’s mainly the manufacturing facility placing on a present for them.

So, we have to normalize the truth that most manufacturers (except they stay within the nation they make in) don’t actually have that nice of a grasp on their provide chains or the individuals making their garments.

Their relationship is as in depth as a star meet-and-greet at a comic book con conference. Yeah, you met them. Yeah, you chatted and requested some questions. However you aren’t a part of the interior circle.

As quickly as we are able to all admit to ourselves {that a} two-week trip working with a manufacturing facility doesn’t make you an actual professional, the earlier this trade can change.

Significantly, I do know a woman who runs round calling herself an Indian provide chain professional. She took a trip for 2 weeks to India about 10 years in the past and nonetheless tells the identical tales to make her sound like she is aware of what she is speaking about when she doesn’t have a clue. (She additionally steals tales from me and pretends they’re her lived experiences – 🤦‍♀️).

As an alternative of manufacturers telling their tales about their journey to India, Africa, insert another growing nation right here, they need to enable the manufacturing facility homeowners to be entrance and heart in speaking what goes on of their partitions.

As a result of the truth is, manufacturers have little to no management over what occurs in a manufacturing facility. So, they need to go the mic and let the folks that make the day-to-day choices communicate.

So, as an alternative of asking a model, “Who makes your merchandise?” you may ask: “What manufacturing facility do you’re employed with, and do you’ve got any further sources of the proprietor talking?”

As for the second a part of the query: “How do you foster variety and fairness in your corporation? – sensible examples please. Eg. Variety of fashions/workers and so on.”

A greater various to asking a lazy query like this could be to have a look at the model’s pictures. Leap on LinkedIn and have a look at their staff. Have a look at who they companion with and are tagged with.

That is one thing you may simply determine by yourself. Save your questions for one thing higher.


avoid greenwashing


As I have a look at the highest influencers within the sustainable vogue area and all of the dominating voices speaking about easy methods to keep away from greenwashing, I discover that all of them have one factor in widespread:

They’ve by no means labored in vogue.

None of them.

And that is wild to me.

Would you get your medical recommendation from somebody who awoke at some point and determined that they had learn sufficient WebMD articles to deem themselves an “professional”?

I hope not.

So why are we doing that with vogue? Why are you getting sustainability efforts and greatest practices from individuals who aren’t even within the trade?

Personally, I believe it goes again to an absence of training.

I really consider that uneducated journalists writing articles assume that anybody can simply “do vogue.” They don’t notice that folks like me go to highschool for very niched issues (like making textiles), and it takes many years to study the ins and outs of the trade.

Actual consultants take many years to turn into. Not by belief fund youngsters who spend 100+ hours googling “sustainable vogue”.

I believe journalists assume vogue is like cooking. Anybody can do it; some simply higher than others.


So, if you end up studying these lists of questions and making an attempt to get educated on how one can change the trade, search for the consultants . . . not the influencers. That is my first piece of recommendation for you.


I am in a extremely distinctive place as a result of I get to view the style trade from so many various vantage factors:

  • I’ve a model, so I perceive what it’s like coping with a problematic manufacturing facility.
  • I signify factories, so I perceive what it’s like working with entitled nightmare manufacturers who wish to say they’re doing all of the eco and moral issues however not truly pay for them.
  • And lastly, I get it from a buyer perspective as a result of I purchase garments and I additionally watch and skim the information.


As somebody who works with small manufacturers, these limitless lists of questions are a ache within the butt. Most small manufacturers who’re making an attempt to do the suitable factor are groups of 1, or like, one, and an intern or a member of the family. They actually don’t have the manpower to sit down at their computer systems and reply the trivialities of their provide chain for a $30 revenue.

The opposite factor is, the massive manufacturers that do have the sources to area all of your questions are normally those who’re greenwashing probably the most.

So, with these questions that are supposed to expose the underbelly of the style trade, the other truly finally ends up occurring. Prospects begin trusting huge manufacturers with costly advertising and marketing groups crafting nicely greenwashed responses over the tiny crew doing the perfect they will.

I’ve stated it earlier than and I’ll say it once more. We have to search for long-term options in vogue, not fast hits of satisfaction like a replica and paste electronic mail chain of questions.


Earlier than you open gmail and click on compose, I need you to ask your self these questions.

  • Why do I wish to know this stuff? Are you actually making an attempt to determine easy methods to keep away from greenwashing, or is it one thing else…
  • What’s the various?
  • Did I do my very own (in depth) analysis?

Let me clarify why these questions are vital.


I’m on the opposite facet of so many of those ask-the-brand questions. And for probably the most half, like 99% of the time, the people who find themselves asking had been by no means going to be clients. They’re simply searching for their “aha, gotcha” second. One thing they will use in a determined try and try to go viral on social media.

Bear in mind how at the beginning of this submit I discussed most “influcners” within the acutely aware vogue area turn into well-known for cancelling somebody?

I’ve seen it time and time once more with influencers – their follower counts surge each time they encourage their minions to boost their pitchforks and cancel a model.

If that’s you, please cease.

Bear in mind, there are individuals on the opposite facet of that electronic mail doing their greatest. In case you are searching for bother, I recommend you go discover it some place else. There are such a lot of higher issues you are able to do together with your time than stress out already wired entrepreneurs.


No model is ideal. I believe customers assume that manufacturers ought to have all the pieces all discovered or they shouldn’t be in enterprise (that is truly one thing that many out-of-touch influencers preach – the concept that in the event you aren’t excellent, do not even trouble).

However that’s loopy.

Have you ever heard the saying, don’t throw stones if you stay in a glass home?

Which means, nobody is ideal. Once you attain out to manufacturers, perceive they’re doing what they will, and be open to their imperfections.


And, lastly, many of the questions I see clients bothering manufacturers with can simply been discovered on the manufacturers’ web sites.

Learn. Don’t skim.

Actually dig. Don’t count on simple solutions.


avoiding greenwashing

Right this moment, you’ve got entry to a lot extra data (usually data strategically crafted by entrepreneurs) than we did even three years in the past. If you need manufacturers to vary, it is advisable meet them midway. And to do this, it is advisable do your individual analysis. And ask questions from a spot of compassion, not an interrogation.

All of those influencer questions are type letters. Made for mass copy and paste blasting.

Saving the style trade will not be as simple as a copy-and-paste, change-the-brand-name, press ship.

To essentially begin having conversations and understanding what you might be shopping for, it is advisable ask very particular questions tailor-made to the model’s values, and your individual.




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