If you’ve been on the sustainable fashion scene for any amount of time you would have heard of the term greenwashing – but what is it, how does it impact you and how can you avoid falling victim to it.
Greenwashing is unsubstantiated claims by businesses, brands or individuals that their products or services are eco friendly. It’s misleading and giving the false impression that they are more environmentally friendly than they are; and is intentionally deceptive.
Examples of greenwashing include claiming an item is eco-friendly solely because of the fabrics used when it was produced on mass and using unethical manufacturing processes, making environmental claims without proof or making vague claims without providing details of how they are sustainable, and of course out-right fibs either as to what they use, how they produce or what certifications they hold.
These kinds of deception are becoming more and more common as people seek to make more environmentally friendly and conscious decisions and want to support brands who pay their workers fair wages and have ethical manufacturing practices.
If you are trying to make more eco-conscious choices then ensuring the brands you are supporting are honestly and genuinely doing what they say is important! Here’s how to avoid being caught out and supporting a company who is greenwashing and not a genuinely sustainable fashion label.
- Do Your Research
Read their sustainability and about pages to see what they claim and how they back it up. Ie: “we use sustainable fabric” – what fabrics are they using and how are they sustainable? Is it the sourcing, the fibre content, the production or a combination
- Look for their certifications
Bigger brands may have certifications or impact reports available for you to see, check they are legitimate and not certifications or “labels” they have created internally. Smaller brands may not have them as they can be expensive but will more likely have photos and personal accounts of their behind the scenes and the way they work (ie factories they work with or their staff)
- Sustainability in more than one area
Look at a brands environmental practices overall. Are they claiming sustainability in their fabrics and yet do not use recyclable or compostable packaging? Is only a small selection of what they produce made ethically while the rest is produced in a different manner (ie a “conscious collection” or “made kind collection”)
- Don’t be afraid to speak up
If you want clarity or more information on a brands product or processes then email them or phone them and ask! If they haven’t got anything to hide they should be able to openly answer your questions (but don’t expect them to give away “trade secrets” or supplier lists)
The key to having trustworthy sustainability is transparency and open discussion around how they are sustainable, where they are doing great and where they know they need to improve and their plans and actions on how they are going to improve.
Lastly an incredible resource for checking out sustainable brands is the Good On You Directory where brands are rated on their impact on planet, people and animals – it’s definitely a fantastic resource for shopping ethically and with the environment at the forefront of your mind.
Let me know if you have more questions around green washing or have other ways of sniffing out the truth – I’d love to hear!