Greenwashing? Have you heard about it? Most people haven’t unless they work in the business sector. So, before we dive into this article let us understand what exactly is Greenwashing.
Greenwashing was first introduced by Environmentalist Jay Westerveld. It is when a company makes you think that their products do not harm the environment when in reality, they do. So, you may wonder why would businesses promote themselves as "green" and lie to customers? That’s simple! The company wants to make a customer feel better about their purchase, which they hope leads to more sales and more sales means more profits!
For instance, it is common for companies to use phrases such as ‘eco’, ’sustainable’, ’recycled’, ‘organic’ when selling their products. Fast fashion has played a significant role in making such false claims.
Reasons why Greenwashing is so prevalent
The biggest issue is that there’s no clear term for sustainability. Using terms like 'ethical' and 'eco-friendly' have no consequence at all. As a result of this, the fashion industry has little to no accountability.
The reason businesses get away with greenwashing so easily is simply because people don’t know enough about it, and there’s no shortage of false information that can mislead the public. According to a review of 12 of the most well-known British and European fashion labels, including brands such as Asos, H&M, and Zara, 60% of environmental claims are "misleading." This fact is absolutely shocking for those of us trying to reduce our waste.
How to avoid being greenwashed
If you are conscious about the environment, finding “green” products is probably really important to you. However, doing this on a budget can be a little tricky. According to a study, H&M alone has almost 4,000 stores worldwide and has plans to double this in the future. This plan to expand just shows how profitable and simple it is to create low-cost clothing to cater to the needs of all types of customers. Such expansion of fast fashion companies at such a fast rate can be truly damaging to the environment. Did you know that the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world just after the oil industry? As the industry grows, the damage it causes to the environment also grows.
You can make a difference!
So how do you avoid falling prey to greenwashing? One way is to look deeper into a company’s claims. If a company claims to sell eco-friendly clothes, go to their website and look for more information like the materials they use. If this information appears to be vague, there's a significant possibility that this company is trying to greenwash you.
Another way to avoid being greenwashed, is to look for international certification such as Fairtrade, Global organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and so on. Such certification proves the authenticity of the product, however, take note that these certifications can be very expensive for small brands so they won’t always have it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to companies to question their claims if you can’t find the information you’re looking for on their websites.
At Dooeys, we’re a prime example of a small brand using verified eco-friendly materials and producing ethically in small batches. Although our shoes do not have their own certifications due to it’s high cost for the audit, our plant-based & recycled materials are certified by several different certification bodies. From the apple leather we use to make our vegan slippers to the lining made from recycled plastic bottles, we strive to make the most stylish, sustainable slippers out there.
Recognize your power as a consumer, and don't be afraid to make your voice heard!