How to Avoid Greenwashing When Shopping

What is GreenWashing?

Greenwashing is when a company conveys that they have ethically produced their product or service without proof of improving their eco and social impact. Unfortunately, this term exists because many brands talk the talk, but do not walk the walk.

Sadly, I have fallen into the greenwashing trap of American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) and Lulu’s. Though both brands state positive commitments, Good On You claims that both companies lack a proof of purchase for their “actions.” Though bummed, it is good I know this now and share with you anyways some items that I really do love despite how low these brands rank on the ethical totem pole.

The American Eagle Outfitters Score

To give AEO some credit, the company is heading in the right direction. They are acknowledging their eco and social impact in the industry.

AEO states to do the following:

  • Reduce gas emissions by 20$ at the end of 2017
  • Minimize hazardous chemicals
  • Reduce wastewater
  • Audit working conditions for factory workers
  • Banned sandblasting equipment
  • Ban use of fur, angora, down, and exotic animal hair/skin
  • Use wool from non-mulesed sheep

As impressive as all of this sounds, AEO has yet to prove action on all these initiatives, according to Good On You, which rates brands ethical footprint. Finding this out has torn me up because I bought two excellent pair of jeans thinking I was on the right track!

Greenwashing brands

Lulu’s score

The same happened with Lulu’s although I bought more at an impulse. Like AEO, Lulu’s is also headed in the right direction but is also not doing enough. I purchased two bodysuits that were manufactured and made in the United States.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think this through. As I did more research, I found out that though Lulu’s make their garments in the US, where and how Lulu’s sources their fabrics is questionable. These are essential questions because how the materials are dyed and produced can have a significant impact on the environment!

Additionally, Lulu doesn’t monitor nor audit their vendor’s commitments to greener and safer ethical working conditions overseas. That means, there could still be people dying fabric in chemical contaminated environments for only $2 a day. Though Lulu emailed me that the company hold their vendors to a high standard, Lulu fails to consistently verify if their vendors are upholding those standards – which again, is disappointing.

Greenwashing brands

Healing from Greenwashing

I am concluding that there is no affordable way to go sustainable when it comes to fashion other than just buying less all together. It will just cost more to have nicer and better things – which is not a bad thing. I have beat myself up over it but have come to terms that even though these companies are not doing their best, I have the power to do several things:

  1. Not buy from brands until they are rated better on the Good on You app
  2. Reduce waste in other areas
  3. Buy only from companies that have the topic of “sustainability” in their subheader

If you have fallen victim to Greenwashing, don’t beat yourself up. Avoid getting rid of items just because it doesn’t come from an eco and social-friendly company. The whole movement is to reduce waste, and throwing away clothing does not help that philosophy.

We are all on this journey together, and as we learn about the truth, we will realize our mistakes. It is only then that we can use our power to make better decisions going forward.

The OOTD breakdown

I got this Periwinkle bodysuit from Lulus in a size Medium. I was unsure how well the top shrunk and wanted something that I could wear long-term.

The color is gorgeous and the bodysuit can be dressed up or down. All you have to do is play with accessories and outwear to achieve your ultimate vibe. I paired this outfit with Chloe and Isabel’s Royal Thistle Statement Earrings. The detail on Lulu’s bodysuit seemed to go well with the earring’s intricate design – especially with my hair down.

The jeans are just the most comfortable I have ever worn. I plan on keeping these forever! It is high-waist, which is a requirement from now to the rest of my life. The jean is flattering on my frame and keeps the goods in place!

I thrifted these cheetah pumps because they were comfortable and so on trend. Though the print is faded, I still love how it can go with almost anything. This is my first time I mix patterns which is new for me since I have a specific system in place; but I still enjoy this look!

I highly recommend visiting Good on You to reference and research what brands rate well or poorly.


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