Updated: Oct 5, 2020
Navigating the world of ethical and sustainable fashion, and making informed decisions that align with our values, can be hard enough already without throwing greenwashing into the mix.
Brands are attempting to position themselves more favourably in the eyes of consumers.
Take for example the introduction of 'eco' or 'organic' ranges, that signal a brand is "doing good" by people and planet. Sure, the purchasing of these ranges is mildly better than opting for say a 100% polyester garment , and we are signalling our interest in such products. But often these ranges form only a small portion of the brands overall product offering. Their inclusion may not be representative of the brands overall business model.
A range of organic cotton t-shirts probably isn't that difficult to introduce.
Let me give you another example.
Apologies, but I am going to pick on H&M (easy target I guess). Take their recycling service. H&M encourages customers to bring in their unwanted clothes to the nearest store for recycling, rewarding them with a £5 voucher to use towards their next purchase in store or online.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love recycling. A cynical perspective of this initiative would however, see a non-sustainable, fast fashion brand generating profit from a sustainable trend. What this program is doing is simply greenwashing in order to sell more clothes.
Think about it! A recycling program that helps you to buy more fast-fashion?
So what can we do about it?
Is it time for an industry-wide sustainability standard?
Are platforms and rating systems, such as 'Good on You', the way to go, making information pertaining to a brands overall impact readily available, while identifying those brands that may be misleading.
Or maybe we just need to look at greenwashing differently, and turn a negative into a positive. I stumbled across the following quote from Orsola De Castro of Fashion Revolution featured in Vice "The true antidote to greenwashing is knowledge – be curious, find out and do something.", and I think this is an interesting point. As consumers, being armed with the knowledge of the environmental and social issues relating to the industry, is simply positioning us better to make more informed judgements.
Remember to look out for those labels that proclaim ‘conscious,’ ‘sustainable,’ or ‘natural fibres,’ without any real breakdown to back up those claims. Instead, keep an eye out for those certifications like Certified B Corp. Check out my post, 'B Corp, OEKO-TEX, GOTS, BCI? Say what?!', for some examples, or for another great link head to Textile Standards.
Have you witnessed any obvious fashion greenwashing?
Leave me a comment or let me know via my 'Contact' page.