Are Scrubs Companies Greenwashing You? 

Here’s a hypothetical scenario you may relate to: Sarah is a pediatric nurse who wears scrubs to work. She likes to sport different colors for fun, especially since the kids love it! One thing that’s always bothered Sarah is the fact that her scrubs wear out so quickly; she’s constantly having to replace them and recognizes this isn’t good for the planet. When Sarah googled “sustainable scrubs,” she came across a brand who claimed their scrubs were “all natural.” She purchased a new set, hopeful they’d last longer and reduce her environmental impact. When the scrubs started to break down after just a few washes, Sarah was disappointed. She looked into the brand more closely and discovered the scrubs were made from conventionally-grown cotton, which requires a lot of water and pesticides to grow. Because cotton is a plant, the company thought they could say their scrubs are “all natural.” Not only that, the scrubs were sewn in subpar working conditions in a factory in China. 

What happened to Sarah is an example of greenwashing. The company she bought the “all natural” scrubs from made an exaggerated (and therefore deceptive) claim about their product, which caused Sarah to spend her hard-earned money on a set of new scrubs. When they started to break down and Sarah learned the truth about the materials in the scrubs and how they were made, she felt lied to—because she was!     

At FOLDS Wear, we know there are so many healthcare professionals out there who care about the planet and don’t want their everyday work wear to negatively impact it. If you want to avoid being greenwashed by scrubs companies, this blog post is for you! Let’s take a look at why greenwashing is bad, how to spot it, and how to make better buying decisions when it comes to scrubs.        

Why is Greenwashing Bad? 

Greenwashing deceives customers and puts out a false pretense that the environment is being treated better than it actually is. Even if a company is greenwashing unintentionally, which can happen, they’re still preventing consumers from understanding the impacts of their purchasing decisions as they struggle to differentiate between valid and invalid claims. Greenwashing can slow down sustainability efforts by making people skeptical of environmental initiatives.    

Newer companies are especially prone to greenwashing because they’re less likely to understand federal guidelines that regulate green marketing claims, less likely to consult legal counsel before launching, and might be trying to take advantage of “sustainability” as a buzzword to get attention from prospective customers.  

How to Spot Greenwashing

Greenwashing is everywhere, so it’s important to learn how to spot it. There’s nothing more frustrating than thinking you’re making an impactful purchase only to find out you wasted your money.   

Here are 4 red flags you should look out for:  

#1: Vague Language

The use of vague and fluffy language is a hint that a business might be greenwashing. Words like “non-toxic” and “recyclable” don’t mean anything without an explanation. Why is a product recyclable? Where can it be recycled? What does non-toxic mean? What chemicals are they omitting? What materials do they use instead? If you can’t find info to back up a brand's vague claims, look for a company that’s actually transparent!   

#2: Images of Nature or the Color Green

It’s frustrating, but it happens—brands use earth tones like the color green and images of plants and nature to give the impression that they’re eco-friendly. Images of leaves on a pack of scrubs doesn’t mean those scrubs are made from natural materials. Always check for valid sustainability claims on a product or from a company’s website before purchasing. Some of the most sustainable products don’t have the color green on their packaging or any images of plants!   

#3: Carbon Offsetting

Carbon offsetting is the process of putting money toward environmental projects in an attempt to balance a carbon footprint and reduce greenhouse gases. The problem is those huge corporations will offset their carbon emissions to make it seem like they care about the planet when in reality their everyday business practices do more harm than the offsetting can ever account for. If a corporation has no mention of their sustainability efforts on their website, yet they claim they care because they carbon offset, this is likely greenwashing.   

#4: Hidden Trade Offs 

Anytime a brand announces a “big green change,” be skeptical. You may have noticed that Starbucks nixed plastic straws for plastic strawless lids. This move seems great at first glance, but doesn’t it seem like an entire plastic lid uses way more plastic than a single straw? It’s important to question any big change that a company makes; they might be trying to hop on the sustainability bandwagon without actually making an effort.  

How to Tell if a Company is Actually Sustainable 

When looking into a company, you’ll want to be able to tell if their sustainability claims are substantiated. One of the best ways to do this is to look for certifications listed on their website—certification processes dive deep into a company’s environmental impact. 

Here are some of the top environmental certifications businesses can receive:     

Here are FOLDS Wear’s certifications!

  • Meryl Skinlife
    • The silver microparticles in our scrubs ensure no bacteria can grow in the fabric, thus maintaining the natural balance of the skin and reducing unpleasant odors. Garments made with Meryl® Skinlife don't need frequent washings (tested after 100 washes at 40ºC).
  • Member of Leitat Technological Center 
    • Working with the Leitat Technological Center means we can confidently call our scrubs medical techwear! This adds to our credibility as we are entering a world of innovation in textiles during a time when there’s lots of greenwashing and confusion with techwear.  

Do Sustainable Scrubs Actually Exist?  

Yes! If you’re on the search for sustainable, long-lasting scrubs, FOLDS Wear is the answer! Protecting our customers is as equally important to us as protecting the environment, which is why we decided to become the world’s first circular medical techwear company!  

A set of traditional scrubs made from cotton or polyester consumes around 600 litres of water and produces 10 kg of CO₂ emissions. Our scrubs are dyed without the use of water, chemicals, or solvents! Our lab data indicates that every FOLDS purchase saves 10kg of carbon emissions, 600 litres of water, and keeps 2 yards of fabric out of landfills. FOLDS scrubs are made from recycled materials, including post-consumer plastic, carpets, and airbags.  

All of this means that:

  • Less waste is generated  
  • Less water is wasted 
  • CO₂ emissions are lowered 
  • No harmful dyes, chemicals, or solvents are used 
  • Less waste ends up in landfills 
  • Fewer natural materials need to be created 
  • Less environmental damage from the creation of raw resources 

If you’re ready to shop sustainable, antiviral scrubs, head to our home page. You’ll find scrubs for men and women in unique styles and colors. When your scrubs have reached the end of their lifespan, contact us and we’ll work to collect them from you and upcycle them to create new FOLDS scrubs!