We asked Guild Member Emily Wool to share some of the challenges she's faced when trying to source materials for her business, Emily Ruth Prints. Her response was this great list of ways to avoid greenwashing! These are tips she's learned not just through running her business but from her own experience planning & sourcing things for her wedding.
First of all- what is greenwashing? According to Investopedia, “Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company's products are more environmentally sound.” Terms like “eco-friendly” and “natural” are not
always straightforward, and sometimes even the businesses that are greenwashing are
unaware they are doing so. The good news is, you can make choices that ARE
environmentally friendly, you just have to know where to look!
1. Make local choices! The closer you stay to your area when buying materials, sourcing
packaging or purchasing decorations the less likely you are to be tricked into buying
items labeled “eco friendly” that may not actually be so. When working with local
businesses, it’s easier to ask questions (and get answers) about where materials come
from and you can be sure your $$ is going back into the local economy.
2. Go reusable wherever possible. Companies may want you to buy their products
because they tout “compostability” or “sustainably made” but the reality of it is reusable
is always better when possible. Just because something is compostable, doesn’t mean
you have access to facilities that can safely compost it and if not disposed of properly,
it’s just as wasteful as single use.
3. Stick to natural materials. Even better if they’re second-hand! Natural materials break
down better even in home-compost and can usually be burned safely. Some products
deemed eco-friendly may have taken a long and winding route to get to where they are.
Alternatively, natural materials usually have 1 or two “ingredients” such as linen, cotton,
4. Give yourself time. Like anything worth doing, conducting an eco-friendly business or
making “green” choices as a bride takes time. If you give yourself plenty of time to
source materials, decorations, and packaging items you can avoid making hasty
decisions with companies that only pretend to be eco-friendly. Have you ever tried to
walk into the thrift store and find the perfect pair of worn Levi’s? Virtually impossible, but
going regularly and keeping an ongoing list of things to look for means you’re more likely
to find what you want.
5. Think about where the item began. At the beginning of the life of something
recyclable, where did it start? What are the companies’ practices? Who works there?
Just because something is eco-friendly at the end of its life, doesn’t mean that’s where it
began. Which brings us back to staying local- large companies often don’t want you to
know what its production facilities are like or who works for them, but these are
questions you can ask your local florist shop or printer...and please do!
Emily Wool is a printmaker and sewist based out of Virginia. She creates textiles inspired by nature for her small business Emily Ruth Prints, and is driven by a passion for sustainability and accessibility in the arts.