Quite recently, my wife started receiving ads from a company called Wholesome Culture, mainly because she likes to window shop on Facebook.
If you don’t know how Facebook works, well, the more you click a certain type of ad, the more related ads it will show you. Brands also have a way of targeting you based on your interests, and my wife has plenty of vegan-related interests.
Now… if you’re here, you’ve probably seen these ads.
And generally, an ad from Wholesome Culture claims the following:
- 10% of the profits go to a non-profit organization;
- Items are shipped in biodegradable packaging;
- Everything is ethically made.
Bear with me, but let’s look a bit deeper into Wholesome Culture, and why they may not be as ethical as they appear.
What is Wholesome Culture?
My first impression of Wholesome Culture is great. When I first visited their about us page, I was impressed by the design, and to see a vegan brand with a mission: “Inspiring a plant-based lifestyle all over the world”.
The messaging is very relatable, and speaks to the vegan in you, and suggests that this brand is trustworthy. If you look at the number of likes and followers they have on social platforms, it’s awesome.
- Facebook: 231k likes & 234k followers
- Instagram: 728k followers (That is oh-damn impressive for a sustainable and ethical vegan brand)
I surrendered. I even considered buying an organic vegan t-shirt for my wife, as my spider senses gradually shut off (read more about why you should buy an organic tee here). With that amount of followers, there’s no way a company could be unreliable.
However, I’ve always been too skeptical, so I had to look a bit further into this.
A Closer look into the best sellers
The first thing I do when I get to shopping is looking at the best sellers. And for some reason, I had seen at least one of these best sellers around before. In fact, I saw other less popular “vegan shops” advertise the same yellow tee.
If you write “plant these, save the bees” on Google, you get a bunch of stores selling the same or similar t-shirts to those.
But the biggest surprise was finding that same t-shirt on Aliexpress for $8 when Wholesome Culture is selling it for $28.
In other words, Wholesome Culture may have used Aliexpress to “source” this t-shirt and sell it to a vegan audience. Plus, this is not the ONLY t-shirt Wholesome Culture sells that is on Aliexpress. There are more.
Besides, delivery time on Aliexpress can take 3 or more weeks before you receive your product. And according to some of the reviews I’ve seen on Wholesome Culture’s Trustpilot profile, this is by no means farfetched.
They seem to have really poor reviews on Trustpilot, with plenty of people doubting whether or not the company is legit.
This being said… the newest collections seem to be different, and not one is sold on the Aliexpress platform. From what I can tell, the previous strategy was a temporary measure.
Is Wholesome Culture ethical?
Unfortunately, there’s no way of telling for sure.
Although they claim to be ethical, they source clothes from countries with a high-risk of cheap labor. Despite the claims of WRAP certification, the information they put out is not transparent enough to be believable.
For instance, if you visit the WRAP website, you can see the location of the certified facilities, including their names.
For Wholesome Culture’s claim to be trustworthy, you would have to ask them about the exact facilities their source from and verify its reliability. While they may have products manufactured and hand-printed in the U.S, that doesn’t seem to account for 100% of the business.
Also, Wholesome Culture claims the clothes are printed in the United States using eco-friendly water-based inks.
Unfortunately, some reviews suggest the packaging/products come from China. Which makes me wonder whether the product ever goes from where it is manufactured (China or Pakistan), to the printing facilities in the United States.
Is Wholesome culture sustainable?
I don’t believe they’re fully sustainable.
While they’ve recently changed from using polybags to biodegradable recycled plastic, that isn’t as sustainable as using paper or cardboard boxes.
Biodegradable plastics are rarely recyclable, and it doesn’t mean it is compostable. In most cases, many biodegradable plastics still end up in the landfill.
Besides, they are made from the same material as conventional petroleum-based plastics but require even more chemicals in production. While this plastic does degrade, it’s not a long-term sustainable option because it breaks down smaller pieces of plastic over time.
What About Their Clothes?
Fortunately, I’ve found that Wholesome Culture does have some products on the sustainable side. For instance, they have a collection of organic sweatshirts made from 100% organic cotton.
Other products, like hoodies, may have a blend of 80% cotton and 20% polyester, which isn’t sustainable at all.
On one hand, we have the dirtiest, and most water-intensive crop on the planet, conventional cotton. And then we have a harmful polluter like polyester that has detrimental impacts on our oceans and respective wildlife.
Unlike brands like Pact and Plant Faced Clothing, I feel like Wholesome Culture still has a lot of room to improve, and it’s not the best representation of a pure vegan brand just yet.
If you really want to buy vegan clothes, without a hint of plastic-made materials — or animal-cruelty for that matter, here are some of the brands that I’ve found to be 100% clean:
There’s an even longer list of vegan brands storming the sustainable fashion industry, so feel free to do your own research on those.
Wholesome Culture doesn’t seem to be an ethical vegan brand due to the points I’ve mentioned: Not enough transparency and the really poor reviews that point to their lack of reliability.
This being said, I believe there’s been a change. A more sustainable line of product was introduced, and they made efforts to change their packaging, even though it is not the most environment-friendly option.
I would love to change my opinion of them in the future, but so far I can’t say Wholesome Culture is 100% trustworthy.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you purchase through these links. See my full disclosure here.