Greenwashing in the fashion industry

Greenwashing in the fashion industry

Welcome back!

It’s time for another edition of the Greenifs newsletter. This week, we dive deep into the world of fashion - an industry with its fair share of sustainability controversies.

Climate effects of fashion🕯️

The consequences of fast fashion on the climate are undeniable. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the fashion industry is responsible for about 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Moreover, the industry’s water consumption is projected to increase by 50% by 2030, exacerbating water scarcity in some regions. In terms of waste, about 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year. These staggering figures emphasize the urgent need for sustainable practices and transparent communication in the fashion world.

#Greenwashing is also rife in the fashion industry 🤢

Vague language, irrelevant claims, hidden trade-offs, and lesser of two evils marketing approaches are all present in the marketing of fashion brands. And so is using terms such as "green" or "eco-friendly" without any substantial proof. According to a report, analyzing claims made by fashion companies by the Changing markets foundation, 60 percent of claims by UK and European fashion companies, including Zara, H&M are unsubstantiated and misleading consumers.

While the likes of H&M and Zara often grab the headlines, other notable fashion brands have also faced penalties for greenwashing. Gucci was fined €1.2 million in 2020 for misleading advertising related to its 'sustainable' eyewear range. Another instance involves the French luxury brand Sandro which was fined €3 million in 2021 for false advertising around its supposedly 'green' capsule collection. Both instances highlighted the lack of transparent and accurate information regarding the product's environmental impact, with authorities making clear that such deception would not be tolerated.

What can be done? ⚒️

Fast fashion companies have been trying to initiate new recycling programs and reuse some of the materials they have been using. To stop the negative effects they are causing a global mindset needs to happen. Both customers and companies need to understand the possibilities of reusing, reshaping, repairing and simply creating less, longer lasting products with shortened supply chains.

As a consumer, here is a simple guide on how to create sustainable fashion habits.

As for companies, stricter regulations will force them to make more calculated claims. However, to make sure that even those claims cannot be interpreted as greenwashing, use the marketing assistant. It will make sure that any marketing text you’re putting out aligns with the green marketing guidelines!

Fun and interesting facts🍾

Let’s end on a fun story about greenwashing during the Paris fashion week. During the 2019 event a well-known brand decided to present its new collection on a runway lined with 'recycled' plastic bottles. The brand had claimed the bottles were picked up from the ocean. However, eagle-eyed attendees quickly pointed out the glaringly new and unused bottle caps. The attempt to project environmental consciousness fell flat, turning into a memorable example of a failed greenwashing attempt. It's safe to say that authenticity and truthfulness should be the cornerstones of any brand's green initiative.

Till next week, stay green and stay authentic!