Greenwashing can be defined as a marketing tactic used by companies to make their products appear more environmentally friendly than they actually are.
In the fashion industry, many brands have been accused of greenwashing by using misleading environmental claims to promote their products. This manifests itself in several forms, such as blatant deception, discreet promotion, and frequently as grandiose claims without complete openness about actual outcomes.
The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters on the planet. It has a catastrophic impact on humans, animals, and the entire flora. It contributes significantly to climate change, especially fast fashion through its fast manufacturing process and the cheap toxic materials they use, thus emitting a vast amount of greenhouse gasses.
In this article, we’ll discuss how we can spot greenwashing and some of the brands that have been accused of doing said thing. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.
Fashion Brands Accused Of Greenwashing
Most of the fashion brands that have been accused of greenwashing are fast fashion brands. We’re going to talk about a few of them, starting with H&M:
H&M is a very popular fast fashion brand, arguably the 2nd largest one just behind Zara. Their recycling program has been under scrutiny and many believe it is a OBVIOUS example of greenwashing. Their claim is that the old textiles are being recycled, but only a small portion can be.
DISCLAIMER: All of these brands are companies that have been under fire for greenwashing before and have been accused of doing just that. We however, DON’T have or provide any proof of greenwashing for these companies. Whether these brands are greenwashing still, we don’t have the authority to say.
Zara has introduced environmentally conscious lines such as “Join Life” and committed to eliminating hazardous chemicals by 2020. However, similar to H&M’s “Conscious Collection” made of materials like organic cotton, recycled wool, and Tencel, these efforts are insufficient in addressing the negative impact of its operations on the environment.
Boohoo is a relatively young fast fashion brand that’s been established since 2006 and its demographic are usually young adults and college students. The controversy with Boohoo is their enormous usage of wool. They promised that they wouldn’t use wool anymore only to retract their statement a few hours later.
How To Spot Greenwashing In Fashion Brands?
So, you may wonder how can you tell if a fashion brand is deceptive about their eco ways. To determine that you need to look for the following red flags:
Vague And Unverifiable Claims
The company claims to be environmentally responsible but lacks transparency by not providing concrete evidence or third-party validation. These companies usually put up a big front by saying they want to help to reduce pollution by installing solar panels on the roof. Although it’s a small gesture they should focus on minimizing the toxic greenhouse gasses they emit globally.
Misuse Of Eco-Friendly Terms
Keep a look out for brands that use words like “organic”, and “natural” and the ones that promote minimal, recyclable, or recycled packages without clear definitions or certifications.
Companies usually focus on one aspect of sustainability such as using recyclable materials, but they don’t work on improving the working standards and environment, or paying their workers well and giving them insurance.
Always do your own research and make sure to check the brand’s sustainability policies and practices. And always be careful when you research and draw your own conclusions, as some companies might create fictional websites so they can blatantly deceive about their sustainability!
Greenwashing in the fashion industry is illegal and a huge concern, and thankfully there are many alternatives. As consumers, we have the upper hand to create a shift in the industry by choosing to support and purchase from environmentally friendly fashion brands and brands that favor and prioritize transparency and accountability.
We should all try to implement small changes and invest in long-lasting, high-quality clothing made from sustainable materials and support brands that offer this.
What’s also positive is the fact that awareness for GREENWASHING has been raised a lot in the last couple of years. The proper authorities and governmental bodies are starting to hold fashion companies accountable, or any company for that matter. Accountable for deceptive marketing techniques, especially where there is huge incentive for companies to use such techniques.
Every single change that we make no matter how small it is, it’s helping the planet and life all around us in the long run and that’s something we should all strive to do and be proud of.