18 January 2021

From fast fashion to dairy products, companies are placing eco-friendly or "green certified" tags on their products. But how sustainable are they? Here are five tips to help you to Do the Right Thing! – when shopping!

2:00 Min

1. Question the branding

In a saturated market, companies’ sustainability efforts tend to push more environmentally friendly products to the front lines. This paints a misleading picture of the brand, as usually the green products make up only a small percentage of their catalogue. Corporate Knights released its Global 100 list for the most sustainable companies in 2020 using metrics such as carbon footprint and gender diversity score. It's best to understand a brand's eco-ethics before becoming a customer.

2. Look for eco-friendly practices 

One method to guide your purchasing decisions is to buy products with reputable and trustworthy labels. There are hundreds of green certification labels on the market, and each one represents a niche target, such as waste reduction, energy conservation, anti-animal testing, and more. Here is an index of all eco-approved certifications recognised in Europe. In retail, labels such as the Better Cotton Initiative or Cradle to Cradle Certified signifies eco-intelligent designs and the use of sustainable raw materials. Refer here for the most recent index.

3. “Conscious” clothing

Clothing production has doubled since 2000, and a staggering 85 percent of textiles go to landfills every year according to the World Economic Forum. Sixty percent of garment waste is polyester fibres; cotton, also found in landfills, is dubbed the world's dirtiest crop due to its excessive water and pesticide use. Oxfam estimates it takes 20,000 litres of water to make one pair of jeans and a t-shirt, equivalent to enough water for one person for 13 years. Conscious clothing uses natural fabrics like organic cotton, linen (made from plants), and Tencel (made from sustainable wood pulp), which are more sustainable than man-made materials.

4. Repurpose when possible 

Awareness of the amount of energy needed – and the toxic waste generated – to produce one article of clothing changes our perspective on sustainable shopping. Today, we are beginning to shift more towards green living by recycling and repurposing. For example, parents know how fast kids can grow out of their clothes. Instead of buying new outfits at every age, we can try smart and creative ways to repurpose clothing to help the environment.

5. Wash sustainably 

As a final note, choose energy-efficient washing machines, opt for cold water, use an eco-friendly detergent, and dry your clothes in the sun for a more sustainable approach. As well as being conscious when washing your clothes, try and be sustainable when selecting wash products for yourself. Avoid exfoliants which contain microplastics and try to use a plant-based body wash, which will naturally biodegrade and not damage the planet. Your skin – and the environment  will thank you!