With consumers becoming more environmentally and ethically conscious, many brands are now adapting and changing their brand image to be more ‘green’ to appease consumer demand. While this is a positive step, we also must be aware that saying one thing and actually doing it are two different processes in battling fast fashion. Greenwashing is a term created by Jay Westervelt in 1986. It means when a brand uses manipulating or misleading marketing or information to convey that they are more sustainable or environmentally friendly than they actually are. Using buzz words like sustainable, eco-friendly, green and natural are all methods to grab the attention of a conscious consumer. This behaviour is adopted by many fast fashion brands to encourage consumers to continue to buy their products with a ‘guilt-free conscious’. However, there are some guidelines to help consumers to sift the good from the bad.
OVERCOMPENSATING IN ONE AREA AND IGNORING ANOTHER. Yes, if a brand is incorporating recycled or environmentally friendly materials into their products this is a positive step towards sustainable fashion but, are they paying their garment workers a living wage? Do they ensure longevity and quality in their clothing? How much water and energy are used in their manufacturing process and throughout their supply chain? LOOK FOR FACTS & FIGURES. It is extremely important that companies take a holistic approach when addressing sustainability throughout their supply chain.
Watch out for CONSCIOUS/SUSTAINABLE/ECO-FRIENDLY COLLECTIONS. Often large fashion brands will release these ‘sustainable’ collections of a few items of clothing and products without addressing the sustainability of their company and supply chain as a whole … T*pshop & Pr*mark I’m looking at you. They will continue to profit from clothing produced from unsustainable methods and materials by using this scapegoat method.
Look for CERTIFICATION- FAIRTRADE, BCI, ECOCERT, FSC etc. However, many smaller brands and companies cannot yet get certified due to the expense so not being certified does not necessarily mean they aren’t using sustainable practices. So DO YOUR RESEARCH into the company and look for TRANSPARENCY and sustainability throughout the supply chain. GOODONYOU is an amazing and easily accessible website where you can check most brands ethical and environmental impact ratings.
As consumers, we too have a responsibility to be more sustainable in our shopping habits. Shopping from sustainable and ethical fashion brands is a step in the right direction, but we also must be aware that fashion companies’ green marketing approaches mislead consumers to think that all the responsibility lies with the clothing brand and not the consumer. We must reduce our consumption and address the frequency of our shopping, we should see clothing as an investment and not a throwaway product.