What Is Greenwashing?

More and more often we are hearing about the term greenwashing within the fashion industry. But what exactly does that mean?

What is Greenwashing?

To put it simply greenwashing is when a fashion brand claims that their products are environmentally friendly when quite often they’re not. They use labels like “green” or “ethical” with the aim of targeting more environmentally conscious shoppers.

Examples of Greenwashing

Probably one of the most talked about companies when it comes to greenwashing is H&M and their “Conscious” collection. They say the range is ethically sourced and uses recycled and organic materials. However, the low price point of the items surely still promotes single-use clothing. The “Conscious” collection also only accounts for a very small percentage of their overall products.

On the surface their recycling initiative which gives customers vouchers for recycling unwanted clothing seems like a good idea but it also encourages further consumption. For me donating the clothing to charity is still a preferable option but I appreciate that for some people receiving a voucher could really help them out.

It is concerning that H&M may be unable to back up their sustainability claims given that they don’t provide shoppers with more information on why the “Conscious” collection is labelled as such and what exactly it contains. How are these clothes being manufactured?

These somewhat wishy-washy claims are definitely open to interpretation by shoppers. Much of it just looks like clever marketing – imagery that insinuates sustainability and the use of ambiguous language.

While it is great to see H&M moving in a more positive direction in an effort to reduce their impact on the environment, they are still predominately an unsustainable, fast-fashion brand.

What does this mean for consumers?

I fully appreciate that not everyone can afford to shop from a sustainable brand. Items can be a lot more expensive and if you don’t have the spare cash to spend there is not that much you can do about it. However, where possible, I am trying to vote with my wallet.

We all have the responsibility of educating ourselves on the companies that are polluting the planet.


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