What is Greenwashing?

Ethical Fashion | Sustainable Fashion

Green spin AKA greenwashing is now rife in every industry and as fashion is world’s 2nd largest polluter this is a tactic that is often used by the global fashion giants to make us feel good about what we are buying. And it works! Just think about how many garments you now see with and organic cotton label on it, or you read that their stores are run by solar power etc. While it is good to see something being done rather than nothing often this is to divert attention from bad practices they would rather we didn’t know about. And how often do many of us look further than that label or that bold claim?

Worthy Initiatives

H&M, as I have written about before, have an in-store recycling initiative that on the face of it puts them in a good light. However, when you consider it would take them 12 years to recycle what they actually produce in just 48 hours this seems like a clever ploy just to get us unsuspecting customers in store to buy more. Forever 21 is a another huge fashion brand in the US​ that a few years ago installed  what was then the largest roof top installation of solar panels in the Los Angeles county, but at the same time they opened another vast store selling more clothes cheaper than ever, thus negating any ecological good done by the solar panel arrays.

Green Appearances

​Some of this greenwashing is done on a much more subtle way using practices learnt from the food industry. Store fittings in natural looking materials, illustrations of leaves and trees or even just green swing tags make us unconsciously believe these are more natural, sustainable products when many of them are far from it. So how do we know who is really doing the right thing?

Well, on a simplistic level if a garment is cheap then it really can’t  be very sustainable. The workers cannot have been paid much nor looked after properly and the fabrics would not be organic. But if you want to go into more detail there are also several places you can look.

Tools for Scrutiny

​The Higg Index, due to be released next year, is a growing reference of assessments on fashion brands that will show environmental footprints of  their garments. Rank a Brand is another agency who grades brands from different industries and Project Just ​is another searchable database and the Good On You app is also useful. Corporate Sustainability Reports are often available on a company’s website which may also shed some light on how much the brand is doing. If they use terms that come with some sort of certification such as organic, fair trade and recycled then it’s easy to substantiate ​rather than the words sustainable and eco-friendly which have nothing to back them up.

If you are interested in reading more on this subject you might like Why Should I buy Organic Cotton? or Can Fast Fashion be Sustainable? At Boy Wonder we are open and honest about our impact and our sustainability targets. You can find out more about that here.


​#Greenwashing #HiggIndex #RankABrand #ProjectJust #Fashion #Green

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