Over the years, demand for “green” clothing has increased, with more people being interested in purchasing sustainable clothing than ever before. Growing interest in sustainably produced garments has also started a trend in the fashion industry, known as “greenwashing.”
The conflict between trendy, good quality and eco-friendly clothes has forced many companies to change their ways of production, especially seen through media claims. Greenwashing refers to companies who claim they are manufacturing their products sustainably, when they usually are not. The main risk of greenwashing is that it may trick individuals into behaving unsustainably. One may want to purchase their goods if a business claims they’re eco-friendly. If these environmental statements turn out to be incorrect, then by supporting the business, they have accidentally contributed to damaging the environment.
Greenwashing takes place when more time and money is expended by a company or organization on promoting itself as environmentally friendly than on reducing their environmental effect. It is a cynical advertisement ploy designed to confuse customers who choose to purchase products and services from environmentally friendly brands.
Despite the manipulation techniques many of these brands employ, there are ways to spot greenwashing in the fashion industry and properly become an eco-friendly shopper.
1.Look for statistics.
Many companies will claim their products are “sustainably made” or “environmentally friendly,” but before taking their word for it, it is important to look for evidence to back up their claims. Instead of accepting them at face value, the best way to find out whether brands are greenwashing is by searching for statistics that support their arguments. Research and see what percentage of their clothing is actually made from sustainable materials. Amina Razvi, executive director of Sustainable Apparel Coalition, explains “Companies truly committed to sustainable practices are setting ambitious goals that can be backed by science. They measure and are committed to reducing environmental impacts [every year].” See if the brands have sustainable development goals and what they have done to reach them.
2.Know the difference between natural and sustainable.
Many natural materials that are promoted as vegan and eco-friendly are produced in unhealthy ways, often with overuse of chemicals and pesticides which ruin the Earth. Examples include bamboo and viscose. According to Canopy, 150 million trees are cut down for viscose production every year; production of viscose leads to major deforestation. Growing bamboo requires the use of large amounts of pesticides chemicals, and the transformation of bamboo to fabric requires even more. This is highly pollutive to the environment, and the waste the process creates rapidly increases in order to sustain the fast-growing and producing fibre.
3.Trust brands with comprehensive and open goals.
Brands that focus on transforming their entire clothing production process, from designing to waste distribution, to more sustainable alternatives are the most trustworthy groups. Razvi explains, “Leading companies are integrating sustainability into everything they do — not just one collection or a handful of pieces. Sustainability touches every aspect of the business and should be integrated as such, from headquarters, to design, manufacturing, shipping, and sales.”
The best way to steer clear of greenwashing is to research before you buy. This way, you not only buy garments better for the environment, but you will get more insight on the quality and worth of what you purchase.