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How to Spot Greenwashing in Fashion Brands

Updated: Jun 8, 2022

"Sustainable". "Green Brand". "Eco Fashion". "Cruelty-free". "All-Natural". "Recyclable". "Non-toxic".

Sound familiar? These buzzwords might be synonymous with your favorite fashion brands. But, did you know that these buzzwords are strategically used by Fashion Brands to appeal to your sentiments and are often just placative words and look different in action. So, as conscious consumers, let us learn a bit about how we can look out for greenwashing in Fashion Brands.

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries globally. But unfortunately, it is also one of the most lucrative. So, this has led to many brands greenwashing their image or pretending to be environmentally friendly when they're not.

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is when a company claims to be environmentally friendly in their marketing efforts but fails to show these policies in practice. This can take many forms, but some common examples are using green imagery in their branding, making claims about their products being eco-friendly without proper certification or verification, or investing in donating to “green causes” while continuing to pollute. Conscious consumers are becoming more aware but many brands continue to hoodwink and appease the “consciousness” of the consumers by greenwashing and appealing to their environmental concerns through marketing messaging.

"I'm worried about Greenwashing. I think we should come down on it very very hard, whether it's with criminal intent or actively deceptive." – John Elkington

Three Easy Ways to Spot Signs of Greenwashing as a conscious consumer:

# 1: Check whether the brands claims about being “eco-friendly” are properly backed:

This includes claims that products are made from organic materials or made with sustainably sourced materials, or made with sustainable packaging…. Sound familiar? You are not alone to fall prey to convincing communication designed to manipulate the “conscious” consumer in you.

Well, in practice, it is easy to back these claims: There are global agencies that carry out environmental audits to ensure that companies claiming “environmental” standards are actually following them. Agencies like Fair Trade, Cradle to Cradle, etc. provide certifications and companies that submit themselves to these audits and certifications get bragging rights. If these audit badges are missing from your favourite brands website but their communication language implies meeting or even surpassing common environmental standards, that is a clear red flag.