How to Tell if a Brand is Ethical

Amidst rampant greenwashing, it can be challenging for consumers to know exactly which brands are ethical. Does an “earth-friendly” collection or social media movement campaign signal that this a brand you can trust? What about special Earth Day collections or a “green” section on their website? Here are a few tips for sorting through the wealth of information and marketing campaigns out there.

1) What is the current production model and release schedule? Is this brand releasing dozens (or hundreds!) of new styles each week or month? You can take some time to monitor their website or email newsletters to get a feel for how often they are releasing new items and how frequently they are offering sales. Even if the company is using sustainable materials, if they are producing mass amounts at rapid speeds, they probably aren’t being very friendly to the people making the garments or to the planet.

2) Does this brand offer an impact or transparency report anywhere on their website or in their social media? A company that produces ethically will know exactly who and where their products are produced, what the factory conditions are like, and probably even the names/faces of employees of those factories! If the company holds any certifications, do some research to find out what qualifies companies for this and what it really means. You should be able to find this information fairly easily, or if you reach out and ask they should be able to tell you..

3) Look for honesty and specificity in language. Is the brand direct and specific when detailing information about their practices? Or are they vague, using trending words, saying a lot without saying much of anything? This is a popular greenwashing tactic - to obstruct facts by being vague or redirecting attention. Ethical brands will likely be more specific and direct, even detailing areas where they need improvement and specific goals for the future. 

While this is not a conclusive list, this can help you get started! If you’re unable to find any information on a brand’s website or by a google search, just ask! Most smaller, ethical brands will be happy to share what information they can. Any other tips for other conscious consumers? Let us know in the comments!

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