How to spot the signs of greenwashing in fashion
We've all heard of greenwashing – here's what to look out for.
In conversations about sustainability and fast-fashion, one phrase appears to come up time and time again.
This refers to the way in which some fashion companies may make claims about sustainability or eco-friendly materials to distract from unsustainable or unethical practices in their general line of production.
But how can you tell if a garment is genuinely sustainably sourced, or if you're being greenwashed? Well, Lithuanian designer Grėtė Švėgždaitė suggests that the label on an item is a good place to start.
"It should exclude plastic-based fabrics such as polyester or elastane, and be made from natural – linen, ecological cotton, wool – or sustainable fabrics," she explains. "It’s ideal if a garment is of clean composition, meaning they are made 100% from one fabric — this is the only type that can be fully recycled. It’s also good to keep an eye on the country of origin and if the manufacturer pays their employees fairly."
Grėtė also notes how making label-checking a regular practice will help consumers make better choices when buying fashion.
"Be more interested in what you are buying and read the labels. We are already used to looking at ingredients when shopping for food – the same should go for fashion items."
Looking at a brand's website is also helpful in spotting greenwashing, but it's essential to push past marketing slogans in search of transparency.
"If you can easily find information about composition, materials, manufacturing process etc. – that is a very good sign," Grėtė says. "And vice-versa. if there’s no such information to be easily found, that might be a red flag in terms of sustainability.
"Overall I would say don’t trust any marketing campaigns, slogans etc.. It's the information in the label that really matters."
Optimistically, the next few years will see the introduction of new laws targeting greenwashing specifically. In France, large fashion brands will no longer be able to claim that their garments are "biodegradable", or "environmentally friendly". Instead, a garment's recyclability will be calculated by an environmental organisation, and this rating will be displayed on the label. Meanwhile, the European Union are targeting greenwashing among a number of measures they aim to implement by 2030. Under the new rules, textiles must have a digital passport which will lead to increased transparency about a garment's origin and its carbon footprint.
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