Anyone that has looked into leading a more eco-friendly lifestyle has probably heard the term ‘greenwashing’. The phrase was coined in the 1980s, but greenwashing’s prevalence has increased in recent years as society has become more concerned with the climate crisis. It seems promising to see so many companies take actions towards sustainability, but how many of them are actually following through? Below we’ll be explaining the problem of greenwashing in the fashion industry, and how you can resist it.
What Is Greenwashing?
Simply put, greenwashing occurs when a company makes false claims about being environmentally friendly. They often put all of their efforts into clever marketing campaigns that make them seem ‘green’, rather than actually changing the practices that cause a negative environmental impact.
It’s a misleading act that deters well intentioned consumers from making truly sustainable purchases. Unfortunately, greenwashing has become a standard procedure in many industries. Consumers that want to change their lifestyle need to do their due diligence by learning about the difference between greenwashing and real eco-friendly practices.
How To Spot & Avoid Greenwashing In The Fashion Industry
There has been a significant rise of greenwashing within the fashion industry in recent years. Sustainable fashion brands and collections seem to be everywhere, which raises the question of authenticity. How can the average consumer know if these brands actually practice what they preach?
One of the biggest examples of greenwashing is fast fashion chains releasing sustainable collections. They are marketed with buzzwords such as ‘conscious’, ‘natural’, and ‘eco-friendly’ and claim to be made in a sustainable manner. However, most of these products are still made with harmful synthetic materials and are mass-produced in factories with unsafe working conditions.
Certain fabrics have also been marketed to seem eco-friendly by simply placing words like ‘organic’, ‘natural’, or ‘recycled’ in front of them. Companies might not disclose the full manufacturing process, or will only add a small percentage of the eco-friendly fabric into a blend with synthetics.
So, how can you avoid greenwashing within the fashion industry? It’s just a matter of practice. Once you familiarize yourself with the signs of greenwashing, they will become easy to spot.
Don’t believe everything that you read (or see). Big fashion brands have great marketing teams. They can make sustainability claims seem genuine through compelling visuals and buzzwords. Stay sharp and remember that these are empty words until you know the full story.
Do your research. If a brand can’t back up their sustainability claims with genuine facts or figures, you’re likely encountering greenwashing. Look for brands that are completely transparent about their supply chains, materials, and working standards.
Avoid capsule collections. Many fast fashion labels have released smaller eco-friendly collections in addition to their main lines. This seems great, but they’re still releasing a massive range of products that aren’t sustainable. Stick to brands that are adamant about following eco-friendly practices in every area of their business.
Look at the full picture. In order to be completely ethical and sustainable, a company must use eco-friendly materials, manufacturing processes, and treat their workers well. Many companies will focus on one aspect while overlooking the others. For example, a brand may use vegan fabrics, but these could be made out of synthetics that are harmful to the environment. Make sure that you’re buying from brands that care about the full scope of ethics and sustainability.
The Advantages Of Buying Truly Ethical Clothing
The best way to avoid greenwashing is buying ethical clothing. Shop with companies that are committed to sustainable practices. These are brands that, unlike greenwashers, are proud to show what they’re doing to make a difference.
We’ve told you what greenwashing looks like, so now we’ll share what truly ethical clothing looks like and why it’s advantageous for people and the planet.
Natural fabrics that are made with a low environmental impact. Not all natural fabrics are created equally. Although some are derived from natural sources, their production may still require large amounts of water, energy, or harmful chemicals. Learn about our favorite low-impact materials here & here.
Opposes overconsumption. While fast fashion brands teach consumers that clothing is disposable, ethical brands promote slow fashion and mindful consumption. Collections are often smaller to avoid fabric waste and overproduction. Ethical clothing encourages us to shop smarter with timeless, high quality garments that can be enjoyed for years to come.
Supports a safe working environment. One of the most shocking things about the fast fashion industry are the terrible working conditions and low wages that garment makers are subject to. Ethical companies ensure that garment workers are fairly compensated and treated with respect. You can enjoy your clothing with a clean conscience.
Say no to greenwashing by switching to slow and ethical fashion!