Source: Teen Vogue. 2022.' Woke-Washing: What Is It and How Does It Affect the Fashion Industry?'. Teen Vogue.

Planet before Profit: Tips to shop Ethically this Christmas

 Greenwashing and Woke-washing are extremely damaging to businesses, organisations, and people attempting to do the right thing. We want to help the planet, be better, and show support for what we believe in. To do so, we take note of the product claims and then try to make the best decision. We feel good thinking that we have shopped ethically. However, we end up doing more harm than good.

“Washing” terms focus on brands creating misleading or ambiguous messaging for commercial gain without making real contributions. The claims and practices are exploitive to consumer values.  Some types of washing include:

                “Greenwashing,” whereby the misleading and exaggerated claims relate to the environment, sustainability, or ethics of the brand.

                “Woke-washing” focuses on brands joining movements aimed at representing and claiming the rights of a minority group.

Greenwashing and woke-washing are aimed at creating a commercial gain, while not making real contributions to the causes. Common examples include companies supporting ‘empowering women’ while actively exploiting women in their factories to make a product. Other greenwashing can include using ‘organic cotton’ to be ‘environmentally friendly,’ while polluting waterways with the waste.  

At Christmas time, we can be inundated by everything. Gift giving, events, preparing for holidays and working all impact our ability to be on the lookout for misleading information. Especially when bombarded by messages encouraging excess consumption that ramp up around this time. Which creates the question, how do we avoid greenwashing and woke-washing this Christmas?

While there is no ‘magic bullet’ to not fall into greenwashing and woke-washing, there are some steps we can take to minimise our risk. To help you make informed choices this festive season (and beyond), we have put together some questions we ask when purchasing a product.


The Greenwashing and Woke-washing Questionnaire



Is the product I am buying needed?

Seek an alternative.

Am I buying this product from a chain store?

Ditch the ‘Fast’ Brands.

Where were the products made?

Shop Australian-Made.

What are the ingredients/materials used to make the product?

‘Google’ ingredients/materials that you are unsure of.

Who owns the business that makes/sells the product?

Shop small and local.

What information is provided to back up claims on the product?

Look at the business website. If the information is not there, contact or seek an alternative.

How often does the product range change?

Avoid ever-changing brands that focus on a rotating range.

Can the product be bought directly from the maker?

Buy direct from the maker if possible, or from a small-business stockist.

Is there an alternative to this new product?

Look at buying from op shops and secondhand items. Or repurposing and DIY.

Is there any waste leftover? Can the waste be easily reused, repurposed, or recycled?

Seek plastic-free.  


The questionnaire is designed to make us stop and think critically, allowing for better judgment and reducing the impulse we may feel. By slowing down our need to immediately purchase, we can be guided to buy better.

In addition to these questions, there are other helpful resources and information around. Before setting out on your Christmas shopping, these may also be worth a look:

                The Baptist World Aid: Ethical Fashion Report

                Palm Oil Investigations: A- Z Alternative Names for Palm Oil.

                ABC Podcasts: Threads

                ABC iView: Magda's Big National Health Check

                B Corp: Find a B Corp

 Earth Org: List of 10 Companies Called out for Greenwashing

Urthly Organic’s Commitment

To provide this information without including Urthly Organic’s approaches to combatting Greenwashing and Woke-washing would feel wrong. At UO, we want to ensure that we remain as transparent, values-driven, and action-focused as possible. Our values include:

Providing a quality craft;
Improving the sustainability of our business and the natural world;
Ensuring a personalised approach to service;
Supporting the local and small business community.

To achieve these values, we focus on action. This includes purchasing local ingredients, recycling/refilling/reusing product packaging, and more. To find out more about how we back up and action our values, we encourage you to visit the below areas on our website:

                Our Impact

                The Reading Corner



Baptist World Aid. 2022. 'Ethical Fashion Guide'. Baptist World Aid.

B Corp. 2022. 'Find a B Corp'.

Essence Global. 2022. 'The importance of being earnest: Navigating the dangers of woke-washing to make a meaningful impact on DEI'. Essence Global.

Milsom, V. 2022. 'Threads'. ABC Podcasts.

Normington, M. 2022. 'Corporate Greenwashing Tactics to Watch out for at COP27'. Global Witness.

Palm Oil Investigations (POI). 2022.'A-Z Alternative Names for Palm Oil'. POI.

Robinson, D. 2022. '10 Companies Called Out For Greenwashing'. Earth.Org,to%20reduce%20the%20emissions%20level.

Szubanski, M. 2022. 'Magda's Big National Health Check'. ABC iView.

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