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5 Ways to Avoid Greenwashing

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

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.

Locally sourced materials from Emily Ruth Prints.

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.

Collection of thrifted materials from Emily Ruth Prints

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,

or wool!

Natural materials used by Emily Ruth Prints.

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.

Thrifted & gifted fabrics from Emily Ruth Prints.

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.

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