Greenwashing is a smart marketing tactic that wants to make environmentally conscious consumers believe that a company or its products are eco-friendly when in reality it is actually the opposite.
It’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing approach that uses catchy slogans, buzzwords, and appealing imagery to create the illusion of sustainability, all while hiding the harmful environmental impacts of their operations.
Greenwashing is present in every industry you can imagine, from fashion to food, and it’s becoming more and more common as companies are starting to see it as more of a quick cash grab, due to the increasing public demand for more eco-friendly and sustainable products.
Is Greenwashing In The Fashion Industry A Crime?
STRAIGHT ANSWER: Greenwashing in the fashion industry isn’t a crime per se, but it can be considered a deceptive and poor business practice.
Greenwashing In The Fashion Industry And Why Is It So Present?
Unfortunately, the fashion industry is widely known for engaging in unfair greenwashing practices.
Many fashion brands claim to be eco-friendly and sustainable, but these claims are often vague, as they fail to show any proof and results to back this up. For example, some companies may claim that they’re using “organic cotton”, but that doesn’t mean that the production process is sustainable or that the final product is environmentally friendly.
One of the main reasons why greenwashing is so present in the fashion industry is that consumers are becoming more and more interested in buying sustainable products. And because of that, there is an “urge” for companies to showcase and market their products as sustainable and “green” so they can get some profit out of it.
If a brand known for being sustainable is exposed that they’re doing greenwashing, then consumers’ efforts to make ethical purchasing decisions are rendered meaningless. The problem with greenwashing is that it undermines genuine efforts to create a more sustainable fashion industry. It can also lead to consumer skepticism and mistrust, which makes it harder for brands that are genuinely committed to sustainability to succeed.
Greenwashing undermines the fashion industry’s drive for a truly sustainable change, as it promotes a false sense of progress among brands, manufacturers, and consumers.
Throughout the years we’ve seen so many advertisements of clothing items describing them as “eco-friendly”, “organic”, “all-natural” and so on, it’s all great in theory but we haven’t seen anything actually in practice. In fact, all we’ve seen is the exponential rise of emissions, a greater reliance on synthetic materials, and a massive increase in overconsumption. This combined with a waste crisis and the escalating use of resources such as water, chemicals, and energy, greenwashing creates a false sense of security that the industry is more sustainable than it actually is.
However, there is always room and hope for change.
How Do We Combat Greenwashing?
There are many ways that we can do to slow it down and how we can notice when a company is trying to deceive us. Such as:
You need to learn about sustainable and ethical fashion and the certifications and standards that exist in the fashion industry. The more we know about this stuff, the better we’ll be at identifying greenwashing.
Look For Certifications
We need to keep a look out for third-party certifications, such as Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or Fair Trade Certified labels. These certifications will show that the product is up to standards and has passed all of the important tests and is meeting important environmental criterias.
It’s always important to read the labels and the full list of materials used in the production process of making said garments. We should always opt for more sustainable materials such as organic cotton, linen, or recycled polyester. And we should avoid synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, or acrylic.
Research The Brand
We need to research the brands before we make an impulse decision of buying something. We also need to research all of the brand’s details on its website as well as reputable third-party sources. Always be wary of brands that are constantly vague and don’t provide proof to back up their claims.
Buy Less, Choose Well
The most sustainable option is to buy fewer clothes but always choose the best. We should always try to invest in high-quality, timeless items that will serve us for a long time. This will reduce our environmental impact and we can support sustainable fashion brands that prioritize quality over quantity.
In conclusion, greenwashing is a serious issue in all spheres of the industry, including the fashion industry too. It’s bad for the environment and it’s bad for our health and our consumer-brand trust too.
It involves making false or misleading claims about the sustainability of products or practices to appeal to eco-conscious consumers, and it is widely considered a form of corporate dishonesty.
Greenwashing is not only unethical, but in some countries, it’s illegal, as it violates a lot of protection laws and regulations.
To combat this and win this “war” we all must demand full transparency and accountability from every company, and we need to educate ourselves first and others on how to figure out when a brand is greenwashing and how to figure out if the final products and production processes are genuinely sustainable.
By incorporating these steps into our lives we will ensure a more sustainable and ethical future for the fashion industry and the planet.