What is greenwashing?

Greenwashing: “Behaviour or activities that make people believe that a company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is.” – Cambridge Dictionary

Greenwashing is everywhere.

It’s one of the reasons we created Live Frankly. So we could navigate the blurred lines between the brands who are genuinely working to protect the environment, people and planet and those that are more talking the talk than walking the walk.


An example of greenwashing in food is “local”. Buying local is a good thing, if the local farm is a sustainable one. But factory farms and farms using pesticides are everywhere. In fact, the highest concentration of factory farms in the UK is in Cornwall. We need a little more information before we can decide whether local is a good or bad thing, please.

Another of our bug-bears is when a chicken is described as “natural”. What does that even mean!? We’ll tell you – nothing. It purely means it makes us feel better about buying it.

Same with ‘grass-fed’ beef. Is it 100% grass-fed or not partially fed-grass? It makes a real difference.

When it comes to pork, do you know what “outdoor-bred” really means? It means the piglet was born outside but brought inside to be reared. It’s meaningless. But brands will say it and charge you more for it.


So many clothes brands greenwash. They have “codes of conduct” which say basic things, like their workers should be paid a living wage and shouldn’t experience sexual abuse, but these codes are rarely enforced.

Brands also love to bring out a “sustainable” collection, when the bulk of their profits are made unsustainably. But, at least they’re trying, eh?

And the big, giant, massive elephant in the room is that their business models and advertising campaigns are based on growth – making more and selling more throwaway items, so we can buy more to replace what we have thrown away. That’s grossly at odds with being sustainable.

It can be confusing to work out which brands are genuinely doing good things, and which ones are greenwashing, but here’s our guide to the best ethical clothing brands in the UK.


Did you know that the beauty industry isn’t regulated? So brands can use the words “natural” or “organic” if only one product in them is good for the planet, even if the rest is bad.

Natural doesn’t necessarily mean good and chemical doesn’t necessarily mean bad – water is technically a chemical. Uh-huh. We’re working on building up our beauty section, but here’s our favourite brands, so far.

Main image: Starbucks logo. Channel 4’s Dispatches reveals the truth about child labour on coffee farms that supply beans to Starbucks and Nespresso.

About the author

Lizzie Rivera

Lizzie Rivera

Lizzie Rivera is the founder and chief purpose officer at Live Frankly. She has been writing for mainstream publications for 10 years, specialising in sustainability and ethics since 2014.


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