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    How to Spot Greenwashing

    The Green Movement and Greenwashing are intrinsically tied together, and with little to no regulation, the onus is on us, as consumers to recognize when a company is greenwashing their products. Having worked in the clothing industry for 15 years I am often asked by clients about brands they have discovered; Are they ethical? Are they eco-friendly? And the big question, are they a fast fashion brand? Ultimately greenwashing is lying, and when their lies’ are good, it can trick us into thinking we are buying something that was made with thought, care, and with the environment in mind.

    definition of greenwashing: a common marketing ploy designed to make products seem more sustainable than they are.

    A quick dive into the History of the Green Movement:

    Most people would conger up images of the 70’s – hippies holding signs that read ‘POLLUTION brought to you by the same folks that brought you VIETNAM.’ When researching I was surprised to learn that the Green Movement, in terms of American culture, dates back to the 1830s-40s, first developed by Transcendentalists. What didn’t surprise me was that there was no mention or recognition of the fact that Aboriginal + Indigenous people have lived with the Earth and have always fought for its preservation. Our world history often diminishes their efforts to protect our planet. ‘It’s their timeless stewardship of the land – based on respect, reciprocity, restraint, and reverence – that to this day continues to nourish their communities and cultures, sustain biodiversity, and preserve life-giving ecosystems.’1

    green movement in the 70's

    Over the last 5 years, we have seen The Green Movement move more and more to the forefront of people's minds, as we are given increasingly alarming statistics from scientists, people are looking to the companies they buy from to step up and do the right thing. With any movement that pushes back against capitalism, big brands will always find a way to sell us their original product with new packaging and marketing to make us feel better about buying the same old thing. Greenwashing has had its ups and downs just like the Green Movement and we are currently witnessing a resurgence of Greenwashing as more and more consumers demand products be made consciously, brands are having to put their “green sheen” onto the same poorly made, environmentally damaging products.

    Over the years we have become aware of the damage our modern life causes on the environment – flying overseas, using disposable plastic, driving to and from work, but when it comes to our clothing the impacts were less obvious and took longer to come to light. You might ask, what is it about the clothing industry that there is to greenwash; companies like H&M, Shein, Uniqlo, Urban Outfitters, Fashion Novo & Zara have worked hard to keep information like how much clothing they produce a year? What their factory workers are paid? What happens to damaged or end of season clothing? Where do they dump chemically laden water? They have kept these answers a secret because ultimately none of the decisions they are making are in the best interest of the environment, the land, or the people who work for them.

    Fast Fashion Brands Greenwashing

    At this point, we all know the damage of fast fashion, but it is naïve of us to think that these million and billion dollar companies will just close up because they are harmful to our environment.

    What is more damaging than a fast fashion brand? One posing as being an ally to the Green Movement, where they tell us what we want to hear, but continue the same harmful practices.

    This is Greenwashing. Companies, like mentioned above, are using the environmental movement to increase their market share.2 Like stated above, there are no regulations when it comes to this ploy, it is on us as consumers to become informed enough to spot when a brand is Greenwashing their products. This is happening in all industries, not just fashion. Below are some questions that you should be asking before buying products, they will help you spot if a company is Greenwashing. 

     

    Brodie & Michelle from Blondie Apparel suggests asking these questions:

    WHERE DO THEY MANUFACTURE THEIR PRODUCTS?

    This is super easy, if you head over to Blondie Apparel, they have a dedicated page talking about the 'small women-owned factory located on the outskirts of Toronto' where they have their products manufactured. Their social media has also featured both of them doing picks ups there. This is a clear message to consumers that this business CARES about its manufacturing process. They are working with another local business to make long lasting garments.

    A fast fashion brand that is Greenwashing their products will not show where they manufacture its products, because honestly, they don't want you to know. They won't show that partnership because there isn't one.

    WHAT TYPE OF PACKAGING DO THEY USE?

    I love this question as a baseline for Greenwashing. H&M, Zara, Urban Outfitters, all have pages on their website that talk at length about their eco-friendly and sustainable practices, yet when you receive a shipment from them, each item is individually wrapped in plastic. Many local businesses, Blondie Apparel included are going above and beyond to make sure they are using eco-conscious shipping materials.

    IS IT CLEAR WHERE THEY SOURCE THEIR FABRIC?

    Companies like Blondie Apparel and OkayOk are vocal on their social media about milling their own fabric with local mills. This is a part of their brand identity, sustainability. The same applies to where their products are made, if a brand is not honest about where their fabric is milled, they are hiding it for a reason.

     

    Masha from Masha Apparel suggested looking at:

    FABRIC CONTENT LABELS.

    Look for proper names of fabric on the content label. A huge Greenwashing tactic is making polyester sound better. Like Vegan Satin Silk, which is not a real fabric, vegan silk is polyester. Another example is companies will often label the products as satin, satin is a weave, not a fabric content. It will almost always be 100% polyester with a tight satin weave. 

    VERIFY ECO OR RECYCLED CLAIMS.

    Companies will often list the fabric as natural or recycled when only a small portion of it actually is. A garment that is 30% recycled polyester, and 70% polyester will often be labeled as recycled fabric and a garment that is 25% cotton and 75% polyester will be called a natural fabric. There are no rules regulating this.

    BE WARY OF THE WORD SUSTAINABLE.

    There is no governing body to determine what sustainable means. For example, sustainable denim from India (where labor and environmental laws are different from Canada’s) is probably a far cry from your expectations of true sustainability. 

     

    Adrienne from OkayOk gave this tip for spotting Greenwashing:

     WATCH FOR THAT ONE TAGLINE THAT OVERSHADOWS THE BAD STUFF.

    Things like 'Designed in Canada' that tricks you into thinking Made in Canada, or 'Cruelty Free' when everything is made from plastic. When researching this article I saw taglines like 'Shop + Save the Planet' & 'Look Cute + Protect the Environment.' These are gross overstatements and ultimately when we know how damaging fashion is to our environment, seem downright cruel and misleading.

     

    Carissa (me!) from Copious thinks you should watch out for:

    PRICE

    This is a huge giveaway. If a brand is touting sustainable practices and ethical manufacturing its prices will be higher. (Yes luxury brands Greenwash, charge higher prices and are ultimately selling their name not just the product, but that is a topic for another blog post.) Fast Fashion brands talk sustainability then turn around and sell pants for $60. This is not sustainable or ethical, and damage is being done by not paying a fair living wage to workers & to our environment. 

    WHEN A BRAND PRODUCES A TINY RANGE OF ITS LINE SUSTAINABLY BUT PROMOTES ITSELF AS CONSCIOUS.

    If a company produces 1 item sustainably, but 100,000 pieces non sustainably are they really sustainable? We need to draw a hard line and spend our money with companies, and local brands who are putting the work in to build whole collections eco-consciously.

     

    Lastly, Nicole from Desserts & Skirts gave my favourite advice.

    FOLLOW YOUR GUT.

    There are so many red flags a company can show us they are being unethical. Too much variety of products, number of products produced each year, low price tag, sales all the time. Ultimately you have to trust your gut and spend your money with someone you trust. If you think they are Greenwashing, they probably are.

     

    Writing this made me a little sad. I am dropping some reels this week to show you companies that are Greenwashing and seeing them use words like; Sustainable, Eco-Conscious, Eco-Friendly, Recycled, Thrifted, in marketing tactics to help sell their products that are not made with these actual values is discouraging. But then I talked to these amazing businesswomen about Greenwashing and realized we are all so knowledgable about this marketing ploy and the only way to help others learn how to spot Greenwashing is to share that knowledge. 

    Thank you to each one of these amazing makers who shared their tips and tricks for spotting Greenwashing. Now that you know them, trust me you will start to see the green sheen, and even better, you will see the brands who are genuinely putting in the effort to be sustainable clearer too.

    View Reel on Zara's Greenwashing

    View Reel on Urban Outfitters's Greenwashing

    View my LIVE with Nadine from Mayana Geneviere

    I sourced information for this blog post from the below places.

    #1. Earth Island

    #2. Slow Factory; Greenwashing + Wokewashing/ Why you Should Avoid Both.

    #3. Green Queen 

     #4. Panapruim 

    Copious HQ Happenings

    the dropout podcast, harry potter series, hbo succession, thrifting, relaxing

     

     

    What I have been listening to...

    THE DROP OUT

    The latest season is dropping episodes alongside the trial and it has been captivating to watch the prosecution and defense lay out their evidence. The last few episodes got extra interesting when Elizabeth herself decided to take the stand. With her signature style of talking she presented new evidence, now it is up to the jury to decide a verdict. 

     

     

     

     

    What I have reading... 

    HARRY POTTER SERIES

    This is my first time diving into the series and was put onto it by my oldest nephew. He has consumed the whole series so he instantly shared his copies with me. You all know how much I adore reading and I am so proud of him for developing this passion. Book 1 and 2 were quick reads and I’m hooked on the characters. Next up, a movie marathon for the books I have read!

     

     

     

     

    What I have watching... 

    SUCCESSION

    No words can describe how incredible this show is. Each actor is so perfectly cast, the casting director should win an Oscar along with every actor. It follows a high power family and their role in their family business. They are each struggling to gain or retain their power within the company and are willing to do anything to get it.

     

     

     

     

    What I have been doing...

    THRIFTING

    THREADED has been my passion project for the last year and half. Seeing it spark important conversations about the damage of labels, both business and personal is exactly what I wanted when I launched NO LABELS, JUST VIBES. This last month I thrifted SO many goodies for the next edition of THREADED.

     

     

     

     

     

    What I have been working on... 

    RELAXING

    December is usually pretty chill for me. I get to wrap up any outstanding projects, get prepped and ready to start new projects and finally I get to relax. The beau and I took a day before the holidays and we went to the movies, enjoyed a nice dinner out at Gyubee and we got to reset and relax before the holidays. I am bringing that energy into 2022 with me.

     

    Femme Stories | Edition 23 | Reed

    The Femme Stories is a blog series celebrating the makers who inspire, empower their communities and continue to gift us with their creativity; these are their stories.
     
    Reed | The Wolf Moon
     
    Supporting local, whether I am buying for myself or searching for a gift has become common place for me, but like working out or studying I have always believed it is a muscle and you must make it a part of your routine. That is why in December I wanted to shine a light on all the shops that are selling local goods that you can go and buy your last-minute gifts from.
    In Part 1 & 2 you will find lots of options in areas all across Canada, including The Wolf Moon. I got to talk with Reed earlier this month and I loved learning more about the journey that led him to opening his shop.
    Reed, Owner of The Wolf Moon

     

     How long have you had your shop? 

    The storefront has been open for just about five months now, I opened in mid-June when COVID precautions allowed for businesses to open up. I actually launched the online platform first to test out what products to bring in, building up my inventory and to help me get used to running a business, plus it helped me build an online audience.

     What did you do before running The Wolf Moon?

    Most recently I came from the marketing world. I worked at Loblaws Digital and Joe Fresh on their digital marketing and graphic designer teams. I had worked there for 3 years before leaving to open my shop in January.

    What prompted you to leave that environment and start your own company?

    I actually ended up taking a leave of absence from work right before COVID hit. I was a little burnt out from the office world and feeling a bit disenfranchised, so it felt right to take a step back and figure out what was next for me. I went back to my hometown, which is in northern British Columbia, and was spending time with my sister and my family and really remembering what I liked about small town life.

    I ended up back in Toronto after a few months and was spending time with a friend, we were both kind of keen to get out of the city. I was telling her how I really wanted to find a house with commercial zoning on the main floor and a place above it to live, later that day I looked online and found this house, the one I run The Wolf Moon out of. I came up to Haliburton to have a look at and honestly it all kind of worked out, I moved just over a year ago and I am just getting through my first year of running this business and everything that comes with that. 

    When this was coming to fruition did you always have a plan to sell locally made or fair-trade goods?

    No, not directly, because the house had commercial zoning, I went with the option to get a small business loan and to do this I had to put together a full business plan. Through that process I really reflected on my own life and a lot of the brands I was wanting to carry were LGBTQ+, BIPOC, or female led small businesses, so it fell into that category. I did love the idea of the business having that backbone of supporting people who have been ostracized or have had more notches against them from the start.

    How would you describe your theme for the shop?

    In terms of the products, I would say there’s always something a little bit unique about each of them, whether they are actually handmade, making each one one of a kind or just a little bit more offbeat. I tend to carry a range between items that are more practical, which makes them easier to sell, one of a kind items and those really unique pieces that you won’t find in any other shop in the area.

    You carry a lot of brands that are sustainable, how important is that quality to you?

    That has definitely been much more of a focus in terms of my life and the vision for the shop. With any of my products I really do try and choose vendors that have a focus on sustainability or all-natural products. For example, Toyo Makes Things, all her products are made from second-hand fabrics that she sources and Scott Wallings prints are made from off cuts of paper and his t-shirts are all second-hand that he prints on. I love showcasing vendors that have a focus on sustainability.

    You offered Merch for Pride Month, did you work with an artist or graphic designer or was that all in house?

    That Pride Collection comes from a label in Toronto, Operation Soap. They do a series of shirts celebrating Queer Culture. Our Pride Week was a week after Toronto’s so it was a great opportunity to bring that collection up here.

    Do you have any upcoming launches or new products joining your shop for the holidays?

    Living Libations is a local Haliburton company and I am really proud to start carrying this brand at my shop.

    What are you currently reading?

    I am currently listening to an audiobook, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste NG

     

    Local shops like The Wolf Moon are vital to makers. We put so much love into our products and to have someone love them as much as we do, and help us with ways to reach customers is everything. So many of the shops I sell at, the owners are not just colleagues but friends and give me integral feedback to what customers are saying. You can check out Reed’s shop at The Wolf Moon Shop and follow along on Instagram.

     

     

    Shopping Local All December

    Shopping Local for Holiday gifts can be easy in October, when you have time for shipping. It's even easy throughout November when there are Holiday Markets to shop at, but come December we need physical shops to go; how else will we grab those last minute gifts? Well this Copious Gal has you covered with a list of shops that carry a curated selection of Locally Made & Unique Gifts. Let's make a pact right now, supporting local all the way through to this holiday season.

    VANCOUVER

    Walrus - A boutique retail shop that celebrates well-crafted, functional and playful items for you and your loved ones.

    EDMONTON

    Shop Chop - A one stop shop for all your gift giving needs.

    CALGARY

    The Curated Home - A shop that believes deeply in the capacity of our homes to nourish, comfort and uplift us.

    shop chop edmonton shop, walrus vancouver shop

    SUDBURY 

    Good Luck General - home + self + plant + spirit

    MINDEN

     The Wolf Moona queer-owned business supporting BIPOC, 2SLGBTQ+, femme and female-owned small businesses. 

    FENELON FALLS 

    Curiousan eclectic gift shop with a location that is accessible from your boat or car.

     THORNBURY

    The Cheese Gallery - Give the best gift of all... Cheese & Charcuterie.

    The wolf Moon Shop

    COLLINGWOOD 

    The Painterie - Local Handmade Market with beautiful, affordable, unique & memorable pieces.

    CAMBRIDGE

     One Sixty One - This shop is home to over 100 local makers, all from within 161km of the store – yes, it’s THAT specific.

    GUELPH

    On the Verge - The one and only quirky neighbourhood store you know & adore! 

    on the verge shop with unique and quirky gifts

    DUNDAS

    The Handmade House - We want to provide you with local and handmade artisans.

    FERGUS

     I Love Chocolate - We handcraft all of our products on-site using Belgian Chocolate and other top quality ingredients.

    GRIMBSY

    The Nook - A selection of beautiful, unique, one of a kind handmade products.

     HAMILTON

    Nest - Handmade, Canadian items created by artists who adore animals!

    shop local this holiday season, shop local guide

    TORONTO

    Beadle - We are a tiny store filled with finely crafted Canadian made gifts.
    Arts Market - Giving artistic entrepreneurs a permanent place to sell their wares at the most affordable rent possible.
    Ease For anyone who seeks well-crafted beautifully designed pieces – to complement and enhance their everyday wardrobe.
     

    OTTAWA

     Viens Avec Moi - There is something for every generation, mothers and daughters can shop together and both achieve the stylish, effortless look that VAM embodies.

    MONTRÉAL 

    Boutique Bonjour - Is the place to find original gifts, made in Quebec, at reasonable prices.

    HALIFAX

    Paper Hearts - A seaside stationery shop & design studio that makes whimsical treasures with love, care & salty air.

     

    Now that December is here there is always that last minute scramble for gifts. No need to stress though these shops have you covered. Each one houses a collection of curated gifts that are locally made by artisans all across Canada. Plus Part 1 is also available as well. 

    Happy Shopping & don't forget our pact, Shopping Local all the way through to this holiday season.

    Holiday Gift Guide

    You want to know my favourite holiday tradition? SHOPPING LOCAL.

    It's the best way to make sure you are getting truly unique gifts for everyone on your list. This curated Gift Guide will help you get ideas and jump start your holiday shopping. 

    Mini Tipi Blankets, DYP Refillery, WithNini Wire Art

    #1. Mini Tipi has developed a unique line of goods that are as practical and useful as they are stylish and beautiful. Each print is designed by an Indigenous artist and all products are cut and and sewn in Quebec.

    #2. DYP Refillery is supplying ways to live consciously and sustainably. They offer as many minimal waste household, bath, body, travel and daily-used products as they can!

    #3. With Nini wire art is a gorgeous addition to any home. What starts as quick doodle by Jennifer, is cleaned up and transformed into a minimal single line design that utilizes loops, bends, twists and lots of white space.

    toiletry bag, clare poncho, ski day and jewelry

    #4. Samatia Art and Design makes gorgeous leather travel bags that are very high quality. Additionally there is an option to personalize your gift which I always love, making the item extra special.

    #5. The Copious Clare Poncho is a fan favourite this time of year. It is perfect for all your activities from Fall and apple picking to Summer and camp fire vibes. 

    #6. Gift an Experience!  Each Christmas I come up with an experience for my nieces and nephews. Last year we went skiing and they adored it. I highly recommend putting money towards a day they will remember forever.

    #7. Namaste Jewelry is made for the modern minimalist, who loves everything simple and chic. Each piece is more beautiful than the last, you will have a hard time choosing which piece to give and which one to buy for yourself. 

    Wolf Den Indigenous Art Puzzles, DG Vintage Clothing, Mini Geek Kids Clothing

    #8. Wolf Den are the perfect family gift. Keep busy with these beautiful jigsaw puzzles featuring images by iconic Indigenous artists.

    #9. DG Vintage is the perfect place to shop for that thrifted fashion lover on your list. You can shop in person or online and Dayna has a great eye for high quality unisex pieces. From Tees, to Sweaters, to Jeans and Accessories, you can pull a whole outfit together for a great price. 

    #10. Mini Geeks quirky goods are perfect for you favourite mini humans. From superheroes to space, anime to video games, their prints spark nostalgia for your inner nerd. 

     

    Don't forget this Holiday Season when you Shop Local you supporting someone's dream!