It’s all just a green-wash guv!


Things are not always what they seem. Human beings are dishonest.

Especially when you are buying products and services, and it becomes all about turning a profit.

Being dishonest is a very basic survival mechanism buried deep in the primitive part of the brain called the amygdala. In times of desperation it often ensures that you can eat and live while expending the least amount of effort and energy by acquiring  resources unfairly or at the expense of another.

Unfortunately, big businesses and small businesses are both at it and it’s often a total or at least partial con.

Some ‘less than true’ marketing statements are convincing you that their products and services are something that they are not.

And we are all falling for it.

For years, the sugar industry was burying scientific evidence that their product was the main reason for obesity. They falsified and published their own ‘science’ to shift the blame to fat as the primary driver in the 20th century’s new epidemic.

For years in the United States, hemp has been vilified and outlawed in many countries and disingenuously connected to marijuana as a reason to keep it quiet as a wonder crop for making clothes, rope and car bumpers, amongst a million other things. This vilification was manufactured, lobbied for and pushed through legislation by large conglomerate commodity investors in order to keep their cotton and oil based products in production and turning profits.

Being ‘green’ is one of the new frontiers for the dishonest sales man and you can so easily be caught out by the ‘green-wash’.

When purchasing products and services from the screen-printing and embroidery industry it is easy to fall into a trap.

Sometimes the trap is set unwittingly, unknowingly through ignorance but sometimes it is set wilfully for you to walk into.

If your objective is to buy ‘ethically’ then you need to know what to look for when purchasing screen-printed or embroidered clothing.

There are 2 components that you need to check.

  • 1The garments.
  • 2The production processes and the accreditations of the printer or embroiderer you are choosing.

Let’s imagine that you want to buy, with as close to 100% peace of mind as possible, garments that have been produced with the full supply chain ethically synchronised.

Your first choice will be to choose garments which have been accredited with an internationally recognised environmental or ethical accreditation.

There are a number to choose from.

WRAP, Fair Wear, Fair Trade, GOTS and Oeko Tex are some of the accreditations that garments can have that prove that they have been manufactured ‘ethically’……..but what about the printer and embroiderer. What peace of mind do you have that their processes and their business is run ethically? Who has run an audit on them to find out?

This is the second part of the buying equation and this is where you need to tread most cautiously to avoid the trap.

It is easy for a printer to say that they sell ethically manufactured garments. It is a true statement and to the unwitting purchaser it may be enough for them to make a buying decision then and there.

The purchaser, feels good about their choice, they have done the right thing but have they?

Or have they fallen into the ‘half-truth’ trap? Seduced by a little green-washing.

Did the printing or embroidery company use Soil Association and GOTS accredited inks?

Did the printing or embroidery company use Soil Association and GOTS accredited threads and backing?

Has the printer of embroiderer run a full audit on its processes and procedures to ensure that it minimises its impact on the environment?

Does the t shirt printer and embroiderer have a system in place that continuously monitors its waste and actively works to reduce it?

Does the printer or embroiderer pay at least the living wage to ensure that its workers are paid fairly for the work they do?

Above all…..does the printer and embroidery company have an accreditation from an internationally recognised ethical auditing organisation that proves they they have undertaken the rigour required to be recognised?

This last question is a simple one.

It is easy to find out.

You can look for the symbols and licence numbers of their accreditations on their website.

You can look them up on the register for the Soil Association and on the Global Organic Textile Standards website

You can ask them to link your organisation through SEDEX so that you can see the transparency of their supply chain.

If they do not have these accreditations or they fumble their way through an explanation of what any of these mean, trade ever so carefully if you are the ethical buyer.

They may be cheaper.

They might say all the right things.

They may almost have you.

Author: Arron Harnden

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