04 Feb 2020
Tel Aviv, Israel
Communication for sustainability, Sustainable Textiles and Clothing

In 1783, King Louis XVI made a rather strange proposal. He invited the general public to apply for a cash prize if they could make “alkali” — chemicals essential to making glass, soap, textiles and more — from humble sea salt. The ill-fated French monarch was beheaded a decade later, but not before he received a cost-effective alkali production process. 

In hindsight, Louis XVI’s contest was one of the world’s earliest examples of crowdsourcing. Richard Rubenstein wants to use modern-day, online crowdsourcing — where websites like Wikipedia rely heavily on contributions from users — to scrutinise the eco-friendly credentials of different companies. Last year, he established EcoPruner to shed light on the environmental impact of brands, both famous and lesser known.

Just as Wikipedia users collaborate to maintain a sprawling repository of knowledge online, Rubenstein hopes that EcoPruner’s audience will build eco-accountability together. “We aim to create a community of eco-product reviewers,” he said, “which removes the facade of what companies call ‘eco’ and tells the real story.”

Rubenstein embarked upon his project just last year, when he began sending out a weekly newsletter featuring news related to sustainability. A few months later, he decided to pivot towards an online, eco-review platform: which he christened EcoPruner.

Already, Rubenstein and his team have reviewed companies within various sectors. For instance, EcoPruner’s staff have assessed the environmental performance of world-famous clothing brand The North Face, while also covering the Dutch label Bamigo. This allows users to compare potential competitors based on sustainability. 

EcoPruner is appealing to contributors and companies alike. Rubenstein reports that the website has several enthusiastic volunteers, and brands themselves have embraced the concept “like bees to honey,” showing interest in being reviewed.

Moving forward, Rubenstein wants to start attracting more reviews from users. He envisages EcoPruner emulating the website Rotten Tomatoes, which places film reviews from professional critics alongside reviews crowdsourced from the general public.

For now, Rubenstein’s passion project relies entirely on self-funding, and team members sometimes struggle to balance EcoPruner duties with other commitments. Thankfully, their efforts do not go unnoticed by the website’s growing audience.

I really enjoy how many people have emailed me, saying that they enjoyed the content or learned something from it,” said Rubenstein. “That makes it all worthwhile.”


Learn more about EcoPruner through the website, Facebook and Twitter.

EcoPruner Sustainable Textiles & Clothing