As a response studies have found that only 20% of consumers trust brand sustainability claims. This is an issue, because without trust you have nothing. What is interesting is that simultaneously, this study showed that 53% of consumers see brands as having the most power to change the fashion industry.
Picture it for a minute, the act of washing something so it appears green, but in reality, it is not. Greenwashing is when a company spends more money and time marketing themselves as sustainable than on actually minimizing their environmental impact. Brands with huge marketing budgets can easily deceive their customers with huge claims, green logos, and very little facts into trusting that their products are ‘good for the planet’. As a customer it can be difficult to spot greenwashing as they come in many forms.
As with other hot topics, people are standing up, this time about against greenwashing. Not longer buying the false claims. Last Black Friday (Nov 29) Protest groups Extinction Rebellion and Fashion Action covered the H&M on the Rokin with green paint on Sunday morning. With that, the groups are protesting against "greenwashing".
Photo by Parool.nl
The silver lining is that all of this greenwashing proves that sustainability is becoming a real priority for brands. As a result more regulation will be needed in the future. In the meantime, here are some quick tips to protect you from greenwashing.
How to avoid greenwashing?
There are many ways to spot greenwashing, however, here are the top 3 areas to review before your purchase
Look at numbers and volumes
A brand that is making the effort to calculate its impact, share it and set targets, is a brand that demonstrates true intent and accountability. A brand that is working to improve its entire collection, business and supply chain, is a brand that demonstrates a genuine motivation to change. However, brands that are greenwashing commonly make vague promises and statements and produce ‘conscious collections’ which are weak efforts that aim to create a false impression of environmental consciousness.
True sustainable brands are conscious of the materials they use as they are aware of their impact. As such, they tend to use organic and certified materials. However, sustainability is a journey, and certificates are expensive, so just because they don’t have them, it doesn’t mean they are not serious about being sustainable. The best thing to do is write to them directly and see what they have to say.
While perfectionism is not demanded in sustainability, transparency is a big must. True sustainable brands are likely to be very transparent, of both the good and the bad. A big greenwashing red flag is when a brand doesn’t share the origin of the fabric and the location of their suppliers.
Curious about the details?
To learn more about greenwashing, the dangers of the term ‘natural’ and more detailed guidance visit these great articles by Good on You and Green Queen If the topic of accountability is what sparked your interest this Vogue article by Emily Farra pushes all the right buttons.