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  • Writer's pictureThe Detective

When throwing shade makes social-impact

This morning I discovered a project on my LinkedIn... I just had to write about it. What had been on my mind for a while is now a reality: hiding the rotten apples on the internet when shopping online. Because, if you don't see it you cannot buy it.

In the race to make fashion circular, it's important to only be presented with the good alternatives. What these are exactly is still debated, but it's clear that many good ones are on the rise, shaded by the giant greenwashing brands. Now the shoe is on the other foot, empowering the good ones to stand out, whilst the greenwashing giants are left in the shadow. Put on your sunglasses when reading the rest of this blogpost, because it's a bright future outlook that I am about to expose.

Introducing the shADe plugin

Three students from the joint program at the RCA and Imperial College London have developed a plugin that blocks items with a low rating on the Good on You app, the app that scores brands across the categories: people, planet, and animal welfare.

What started as a two-week machine learning module at the Royal College of Art/Imperial College London, is now turning into a venture undertaken by three very bright students: Jenny Hu, Sille Eva Bertelsen, and Fatimah El-Rashid, the creators of the shADe plugin.

Fast Company awarded shADe a winner of the "Fast Company's 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards". shADe blocks digital marketing from companies with poor sustainability scored and instead suggests items from brands that have the data to back up their environmental claims. (Fast Company, 05-04-21)

From the FastCompany article, I learned what inspired this project:

After H&M launched its “conscious collection” of “sustainable” clothes—which was then called out as greenwashing—students at Imperial College London and Royal College of Art had an idea: What if, when you were shopping for clothes online, all unsustainable companies were automatically blocked? They made a web plugin to do just that.

How it works

Imagine you're shopping on for example Zalando or ASOS. The moment that shADe detects a brand on that page that has a low Good On You rating, the item is blocked, shaded. Emojis with x's over the eyes appear over the blocked item, and yellow smiley faces label high-scoring alternative products.

Just think about how this helps you to see the forest for the trees! How refreshing!

As you hopefully know by now, I am all about consumer empowerment. Having been the uneducated consumer myself years ago, I now know that my choices empower me to wear my values, because of the information I now possess. Knowledge is power, and if you do not have access to this (or simply the time to study), then this tool is your new best friend to shop with.

Recommendation for improvement

If I could make a suggestion for improvement, it would be to filter out any synthetic fabrics such as:

- recycled nylon

- recycled PET plastic

- vegan leather (because made from plastic)

- the likes of these synthetic textiles


To learn more about this, watch my Instagram highlight #QuitSynthetic

I shall write about this movement sometime soon. It's alive already on the Impactr app as well as on my Instagram.


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