The growing issue of greenwashing in the fast-fashion industry
Author: Julia (Poland, Young Reporter)
Did you ever purchase something from a so-called "conscious" or "ecological" line from big
clothing companies? If you answered positively to this question then probably you got
scammed. I know it is a big word, for some it is even an exaggeration, but it reflects the reality of your experience. You are possibly wondering what is the aim of this long introduction and what is wrong with so-called environmental-friendly collections in mainstream stores. Rushing to explain…..
Let's start with some basic information about the fashion industry, in case you're not informed. It is the second most environmentally polluting industry sector and is also responsible for the employment of underpaid workers in developing countries. According to the article written by Bick, R., Halsey, E. & Ekenga, which is linked under this feature, Fast fashion is inexpensive and widely available of-the-moment garments, has changed the way people buy and dispose of clothing [...] From the growth of water-intensive cotton to the release of untreated dyes into local water sources to workers’ low wages and poor working conditions; the environmental and social costs involved in textile manufacturing are widespread. To give you a quick shot of how devastating the fashion industry is to nature let's get into some production details. To produce one cotton t-shirt you need 2700 liters of water, which would be enough to cover the water needs of one person for almost three years! I know these values may sound ridiculous, but that's a bitter truth. If you want to dig deeper into this topic, I'm recommending reading Thomas Dana's book named Fashionopolis. It will give you a quick round-up and provide ideas for sustainable ways of shopping.
Now, we can talk about the main issue of this article which is greenwashing practiced by big fashion companies. To start with, I should begin with an explanation of the word greenwashing. Following the Cambridge Dictionary definition, it is "behavior or activities that make people believe that a company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is". So in simple words, it means that sellers base their PR on ethics and inclusiveness when the truth is completely different.
When we know what the problem that we are facing is, we should learn how to identify it. In the era of a mushrooming range of advertisements, which we are constantly bombarded with, it is a real challenge to spot inaccuracy or false information in a new fashion advert. So what should raise a red flag?
When you are buying new clothes you should search for official certificates like GOTS,
Fairtrade, EcoLabel, or IFOAM, which guarantee ecological and ethical production of the
product. Also, you can look at the tag where you should find the composition of the garment. Don't fool yourself with a "wool-blend sweater" that is actually made of nylon. If you have enough time you can search the brand's internet site for information about the production and more "hard data".
To sum up, what you really need to understand from this article is that you have to do your
shopping on the ball. At first, reading and what's more understanding the composition of the clothes can be demanding, but with some time it will be a piece of cake. And what is most important, make sure that you feel good in your own clothes.