The green movement is rapidly expanding, particularly in the fashion sector. Customers are becoming aware of the terrible effects fast fashion firms have on the environment, workers and farmers, as well as animals on land and in the sea.
Some rapid fashion companies misrepresent themselves as environmentally friendly. This practise of “greenwashing” targets customers who care about the environment. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons behind the widespread use of greenwashing and what you can do to stop it.
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Greenwashing is the practise of making false claims about how corporate operations affect the environment. Many fast fashion companies are attempting to appear more environmentally friendly.
They make the claim that they are less harmful to the environment, however a significant amount of what they do still harms the environment.
If you want to learn more about what exactly greenwashing is, I urge you to read my in-depth definition.
What constitutes “greenwashing” in rapid fashion?
This is how some fast fashion companies turn a profit and how greenwashing is made possible:
- claiming that a production is green by hiding other features and focusing on a small number of them.
- pledging to protect the environment without the necessary evidence.
- using unproven terms or expressions having no inherent meaning, such as 100% green.
The fashion business engages in a lot of greenwashing. Additionally, in sectors like consumer electronics, food and beverage, vehicle, and personal care.
In a study of greenwashing conducted between 2006 and 2009 by the advertising agency TerraChoice Environmental Marketing, it was found that 2,219 products made green claims, and 98 percent of them engaged in greenwashing.
What can be done to combat greenwashing
Here are some suggestions on how to handle this greenwashing:
Take note of special terms. When buying, be aware of terms like “pure,” “natural,” “earth-friendly,” “organic,” “green,” “reduced emissions,” “sustainable development,” “carbon-neutral,” “plant-based,” etc. that could be used to mask greenwashing. These could be false promises made by businesses and fast fashion retailers to conceal what truly occurs behind the scenes.
Make research. Visit the websites of the companies in question to see any supporting documentation and/or request verification of their claims. By searching for the products on Google, you may always learn more.
Look for guidelines. It is wise to be aware of the certification requirements that might attest to a garment’s eco-friendliness before purchasing it. The audit performed by independent certifications verifies validity and dependability. It is deceptive to state that a product is entirely organic without providing any evidence.
Investigating to distinguish between businesses that are actually green and those that are just faking is the greatest way to prevent becoming greenwashed. Greenwashing is widespread because sustainability and business maximisation cannot coexist.
When looking for sustainable apparel, you may find the greatest eco-friendly certification standards for textiles here.
Customers are becoming more and more willing to pay more for environmentally friendly goods. Therefore, having a green image helps fast fashion firms. To enjoy greater profit margins, they engage in greenwashing.
Is greenwashing prohibited?
Greenwashing is prohibited. This practise is utterly unethical. Fast fashion companies use it to win over customers’ trust and boost sales.
This marketing technique has received a warning from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Consumers are shielded from unfair and dishonest business practises by this agency. The “Green Guides” were created by the FTC in 1992 and updated in 2012 to assist businesses in avoiding false advertising. On the FTC’s official website, you can read the “Green Guides” regulations in their entirety.
The practise of “greenwashing” is not new. The desire for environmentally friendly products was already on the rise in the 1980s, and instances of greenwashing were frequently documented. Presenting a green image has become increasingly crucial since this date.
Fast fashion and greenwashing
When it comes to greenwashing, the fashion industry is hardly an exception. Some clothing is frequently marketed as natural, organic, biodegradable, or recycled by brands and merchants. However, only a small percentage of the materials used are (fibers and fabrics, trims, tags, labels, and packaging).
Farmers and labourers from the poorest nations are employed by several fast fashion companies. Without exercising any social or environmental care, they exploit the local communities. Poor working conditions, the use of hazardous chemicals, and a lack of renewable energy are used to produce clothing (dyes, fertilizers,pesticides).
Some fast fashion companies assert that these are uncommon occurrences. Already, one case is too many. And businesses only display content that customers want to view.
Check out the top reasons to stay away from fast fashion in my essay here if you’re still unsure why it’s so horrible.
Brands of fast fashion are charged with greenwashing
The following fast fashion firms and merchants have previously or most recently been charged with greenwashing:
H&M uses a fabric called Circulose. A brand-new fabric called Circulose is created from used garments and other fashion trash. By 2030, H&M intends to use exclusively recycled or sustainably sourced materials.
With its woollen coat, Boohoo. Wool is not sustainable, ethical, animal-friendly, or environmentally friendly. Boohoo had intended to forbid the use of any wool in their clothing before changing their mind a few hours later.
Other Stories and its claims about its production. & Other Stories makes the claim that its goods are produced in factories governed by labour laws in Sweden. Even though they are created in Sweden, China, Bulgaria, and Bangladesh really produce them.
The child labour issue at Primark. Because its employees come from the poorest nations, Primark is able to provide such low costs. A line of denim was introduced by Primark that was manufactured entirely from sustainable cotton that was obtained from Pakistan and India.
The “Responsible edit” at ASOS. The leader in fast fashion, ASOS, is expanding its line of recycled goods. Utilizing recycled materials should make it possible to conserve energy and water.
With its hazy sustainability claims, Zara. Zara announced environmentally conscious designs including “Join Life” and promised to stop using harmful chemicals by 2020. Much like H&M “conscious collection”, using materials like “organic cotton”, “recycled wool” and Tencel isn’t enough to reduce its environmental impact when the large majority of its activities remains disastrous for the planet.