Greenwashing – The Truth Behind Eco-Friendly Fashion

Posted on 8 May 2020
By Dana Andersen
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The term ‘greenwashing’ came around in the 80’s, coined by an environmentalist named Jay Westerveld, to describe companies that portray themselves, or their products, as being eco friendly or sustainable, when they are not. In the fashion industry, this comes in many different forms.

Vegan leather sounds like a good option, both for those that care about animals, and those that care about the environment. In fact, many vegan leathers are made with the use of oils, which are damaging to the environment. Large amounts of leather used in shoes, wallets, or belts, come from the skins of slaughtered animals, meaning that the animal was going to die regardless, and making the real leather option the more sustainable of the two.

Bamboo clothing is often touted as being eco friendly, and has become a popular choice for many online influencers who care about the environment. Although its true that bamboo is a fast growing fibre, sometimes pesticides are used during the growing process, and chemicals are often used while turning it into a fabric, meaning its actually a large pollutant, despite being from an organic source.

Even if the fabrics used, and the production process behind them, are environmentally friendly, the conditions of the workers making the clothes is often overlooked, or even obscured. One factory that was voted ‘the best for garment workers in Bangladesh’ in 2009, and was a member of the Fair Wear Foundation, had a Guardian investigation expose claims of a female employee being assaulted, on the orders of management.

As more consumers become aware of the environmental issues caused by the fashion industry, the fashion industry has to scramble to keep up with what their customers want. Unfortunately, they only care about their customers thinking they have received what they wanted. If someone is looking for sustainable, eco friendly clothes, that will not have a negative effect on the environment, or the people that made it, and they’re told thats what they’re buying, the companies are making money while leaving the consumer having unknowingly contributed to the exact thing they were trying to avoid.

With an increasing number of high street brands choosing to release ranges claiming to be sustainable, and environmentally friendly, its important to look into brands before purchasing from them. If a brand is not disclosing all information regarding what their materials are made from, how they’re made, and who they are made by, what are they hiding?