Published 10 months ago.
About a 3 minute read.
Image: Carnegie Fabrics
Acknowledging that many textile manufacturers are vague about their products, with little to no proof of sustainability or misrepresenting their claims, can be disheartening. But there are a few key ways to identify a greenwashed product.
As awareness and understanding of their negative environmental impacts
industries are re-evaluating their practices and working to minimize their
harmful impacts. It’s fantastic to see a collective movement of corporations
becoming more mindful of where and how they source their goods and what
materials they work with. Businesses of all sizes must practice accountability
for their environmental and social impact, leading to a cycle of corporations
and consumers influencing one another to collectively do better.
The design industry specifically has an exciting opportunity to lead this
environmental charge forward. Equipped with a better understanding of
indicators and responsible material selection that considers holistic, embedded
lifecycle impact; clean manufacturing processes and carbon-footprint evaluation,
the industry can achieve meaningful progress and boost stakeholder confidence.
The manufacturing process is one of the most critical aspects of sustainable
material selection. Some common approaches to creating textiles have been
recognized as having adverse effects on workers and the environment. For
example, Greenpeace asserts that PVC
(vinyl) is “one of the most toxic substances saturating our planet and its
inhabitants.” With this awareness, organizations are becoming privier to PVC
alternatives; and many architects and designers are gravitating towards
companies offering plant-based and sustainable products that are
It’s also crucial for specifiers to understand a material’s durability. Buying
quality materials that are built to last through years of wear and tear
guarantees a longer, better lifecycle for the product. Not only is this
environmentally beneficial, as it reduces waste; it is also more cost-effective
in the long run, because customers won’t need to replace products or refurbish
their properties as often. Selecting materials from reputable manufacturers with
or recycling unwanted or discarded
is one way to participate in a circular economy that’s better for the planet.
The pandemic transformed views on sanitation and cleanliness in all public
settings. Hotels, healthcare facilities, offices, and other high-traffic spaces
have countless surfaces that require regular maintenance and vigorous cleaning
protocols. This is why choosing materials that withstand the harshest conditions
is crucial and stand up to heavy use without degrading.
Not only does cleanability boost the health and wellness of a building’s
inhabitants, it also prolongs the life of a material — a vital tenet of
According to a survey conducted by The Harris Poll for Google
many people feel their organization has overstated its sustainability efforts —
with 66 percent questioning the authenticity of its sustainability initiatives.
Acknowledging that many textile manufacturers are vague about their products,
with little to no proof of sustainability or misrepresenting their claims, can
be disheartening. Still, there are a few key ways to identify a greenwashed
Manufacturers that greenwash might use terms such as “natural,” “eco,” or
“environmentally friendly,” with little to no data to back these claims up. It’s
also essential to understand where and how the products are created. For
example, some seemingly sustainable materials are mass-produced or manufactured
in a way that contradicts or cancels out their environmental benefits.
There are a few ways to identify a truly sustainable product. Reputable
companies can provide data and independently verified certifications backing up
their sustainability claims. Third-party certifications such as B
Declare and Cradle to Cradle
support LEED, WELL and Living Building Challenge projects and are
excellent examples of projects constructed with responsibly made materials.
Today, many companies are taking note of our interconnected global
and are innovating new solutions that are genuinely sustainable. When choosing a
textile for a design project, there are many characteristics to consider —
including lifecycle cost, production processes and certifications. Avoiding
greenwashing, utilizing sustainability-certified brands, and taking into account
the true impact of the production of the material on the environment are great
ways to ensure materials won’t cause harm to the environment and the end user.
Published Mar 31, 2023 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST
Gordon Boggis is the CEO of Carnegie Fabrics. Before joining Carnegie in April 2021, Gordon led companies across various industries — focusing strongly on textiles, innovative materials, health and wellness, and purpose-driven and environmentally sustainable businesses.
Before joining Carnegie, Gordon was CEO and Board member of several privately owned companies, including Mission, Redco Foods, Unreal Brands and Prince Sports. He’s passionate about harnessing the talents of companies to be a force for good and deliver positive environmental change. He began his career in marketing management with GlaxoSmithKline in the UK. He then held senior management roles in the UK, Germany and South Carolina. Gordon grew up in the UK and gained his B. Sc. in chemistry from Loughborough University. He has lived in the US for the last 23 years.