Sustainable Fashion: What is Greenwashing?

Companies love to appear charitable and environmentally sound. It’s one of the key ways a company can justify the price of their clothing and also attract a customer base that is keen on buying sustainable and ethical fashion.

There have been many companies that have used common positive terminology and promises to associate their company with ethical and sustainable practices. While in fact, they do very little in developing an ethical process to boost their factories and their workers.

In this short piece, we will look at the core definition of greenwashing, and show a few examples of ways companies perpetrate greenwashing.

What is Greenwashing?

In a swift sum up, greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are made and distributed. In the Cambridge dictionary it is simply defined as “to make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is.”

Greenwashing Examples

Now we know what greenwashing is, let’s look at some potential ways companies use greenwashing in their favour.

Fashion companies are keen to start promoting a more “green” approach, many using wording and simple eye-pleasing green badges with their products. While some companies may have legit certifications, a lot of brands are using marketing tools to gain your trust when it comes to eco-friendly products. Words like earth-friendly, clean, quality, green, happy and many more have been used to trick consumers into thinking that their products are great for the environment, whilst in reality, many of them are produced wastefully with no plan for recycling them. If a company provides zero evidence with their claims, it is worth taking their words with a pinch of salt.

In general, companies that are ethical and believe in a sustainable future do not thrive on using bait marketing language and worthless green badges, but also have legitimate certifications and possibly awards for their green approach. This will also be showcased through transparency on how they do their business. A lot of green-driven companies, spend less on the packaging and try to deliver an experience that is not expensive but is also responsible, providing their products with fully recyclable packaging and making sure their products are recyclable too.

There are companies that have tried to be more transparent and ethical, such as M&S, and have invested genuine money into recycling their clothing and being more transparent. Still, some have come under scrutiny, mostly due to their difficult goals. It is essential to understand, that while a company might make a promise, it does not mean that the action towards that promise is being taken, will be taken, or is possible. Companies that get scrutinised for being greedy, or for being too idle when it comes to sustainable fashion, create promise campaigns to deflect the negative image that comes with unethical and unsustainable fashion. This gives companies free publicity and makes the consumer feel that they are doing good for the environment when they are shopping with them.

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