So, you open your Instagram and you see this amazing deal from this brand that claims to be sustainable, natural, organic, green, etc…Think twice. And Look closer. Unfortunately, it is quite possible another example of a brand appropriating the concept of sustainability just to sell more.
Greenwashing is a manipulative practice in which companies mislead their customers into thinking they are “green” when in fact, they are not. They are everywhere and it happens across many industries, not just fashion.
Why should you care?
One of the critical changes that I believe we need to make as a society is to be more conscious consumers. Which in turn will validate and support brands that are more sustainable. And this might start a positive cycle. Brands that were not sustainable in the past will feel the pressure to truly become environmentally and socially viable. Really a win-win for the planet, for the consumer, and for responsible businesses as a whole.
Don’t just take brand messages at face value. Be vigilant and smart about your purchases. We have a lot of power with our wallets. No need to boycott businesses (do that if you want). But rather support small/medium brands that are looking to do the right thing.
As consumers, we should also look to support companies that are working towards sustainability, even if they are not there yet.
Progress is important. After all, it is a lot harder for a big company to 100% change their practices vs a small brand like us to implement change. It’s like turning a ship around vs. a jet ski. Don’t fall for simplistic answers. It’s not black and white. And if we want to see progress, we have to be able to support companies that have clear, attainable goals.
On the other hand, if consumers do not embrace a more sustainable behavior, we might end up only validating and supporting brands that do more harm than good. Which will lead us to contribute even further to the climate and social crises.
Here are three ways of becoming more vigilant when it comes to Greenwashing and fashion brands.
Find out who is making your clothes
My biggest Greenwashing pet peeve is statement shirts about the environment printed in polyester shirts made under environmentally and socially horrible conditions. Really? If you care about the statement on that tee, you should care to understand how the value chain works and how your support might be contributing to situations that you do not support (child labor, exploitation of women).
Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index showcases information released by bigger brands about their supply chains, production lines, and social and environmental impact. At the same time, Fair Wear Foundation and Worker Rights Consortium provide reports and updates on their investigations into the treatment of factory workers around the world.
Check for “REAL” certifications
This is a tricky one. Not just any certifications. There are recognized industry-standard certifications that verify any claims being made. These include Cradle to Cradle Certified, given to products that are fully biodegradable and compostable or can be used repeatedly. When buying organic cotton, look out for Global Organic Textile Standard and Organic Content Standards. Both ensure the cotton meets approved standards across the supply chain.
Invest in brands with a more holistic approach
Holistic what? Brands that look at the big picture and incorporate – or have a solid plan to incorporate – sustainable practices in everything they do and not just focus on specific issues. From design to manufacturing to shipping and sales, brands with a more holistic approach tend to have a better sustainability track record/plan and deliver more planet-friendly products. Here it is important to stay vigilant and determine if a brand is communicating their transparent and sustainable journey or if they are just using sustainability slang with little evidence to back it up.
Let us all be more vigilant, adopt more sustainable brands and demand better from the brands we like. Please follow our sustainability journey (we are going for a holistic approach!!) as we strive to be better and do the best we can to deliver our mission.
For more in-depth Greenwashing information, check out these articles:
- Greenwashing in fashion is on the rise and here is how to spot it
- Fast Fashion and Greenwashing are a Match Made in Heaven
Help me spread the word and share this post with your friends. Sharing is caring! And always. Rebel for Good. Rebel for Change!
Stay tuned for our next blog post and feel free to comment or write me with questions and/or suggestions about themes you would like to see covered in our blog.
*Rebel Buda, Inc. is a public benefit corporation and proud member of 1% for the Planet. We offer 100% certified organic tees and tanks for the whole family so we can rebel for change together.