• Q&A

Chicago, Climate Change And Weather: Your Questions Answered

How Can You Tell If A Company Is Actually Sustainable?

Cat & Jack jeans are on display at a Target store
In this July 2017 photo, Cat & Jack jeans are on display at a Target store, in New York. The jeans are made with Repreve polyester fabric, created from recycled plastic bottles. Mark Lennihan / Associated Press

“Greenwashing.” It’s a term used to describe when companies market products as more environmentally friendly than they really are. Dorelle in far southwest suburban Mokena wrote in to ask how shoppers can tell the difference between brands that are greenwashing, and brands that are truly green.

Try to determine the company’s underlying message. That’s the advice from Xi Marquez, the associate director of education at The Nature Conservancy and a sustainability content creator. Marquez said the goal of many companies is endless consumption, and their eco-friendly advertising is another way to get you to buy more. She also recommended looking for third-party certifications, like Green Seal and the U.S. EPA’s Safer Choice, especially when shopping for household products.

And Marquez’s No. 1 tip? Shop locally.

To hear the full conversation, click the red LISTEN button above.