Greenwashing – what is it and how does it influence textile industry
It has been seen that the approaches related to green-manufacturing have significant role in textile industries upon improvement of awareness on environmentally friendly point of view.
Environmental impacts of the material should be taken into consideration for improving new textile structures. Materials should be composed of environmentally friendly raw material and the harmful emissions of whole production processes should be limited, while the material should be easily disposable with no detrimental effects on the environment after use.
What is Greenwashing in textile industry?
The term ‘greenwashing’ refers to misleading advertisements or false claims by companies that suggest they are doing more for the environment than they actually are.
‘Greenwashing’ is a marketing tactic used to portray an organization’s products, activities, or policies as environmentally friendly when they’re anything but.
With people becoming increasingly aware of many industries’ impact on the planet, some companies are tempted to put a spin on their environmental sins.
In a show of ‘all talk, no action’, businesses will spend more time and money on portraying themselves as caring for the planet rather than taking actionable measures to reduce their impact.
As sustainability becomes increasingly trendy and we all start taking more of an interest, brands want to jump on the bandwagon.
Such practices deceive customers with claims that are not backed by evidence and bear social, ethical and environmental repercussions.
Why do brands greenwash?
As sustainability becomes increasingly trendy and we all start taking more of an interest, brands want to adopt it right away.
The fast fashion industry has been a major villain of this malpractice, in order to improve their competitive edge and attract more consumers keen on shopping consciously.
Greenwashing has become a part of fast fashion because consumers often prefer a company with sustainable practices before a company without these.
But no label can become green overnight; it takes time and resources to embed sustainability into all aspects of a business.
Rather than work hard in order of truly integrating sustainability into their supply chain, some companies use marketing tactics to paint a greener picture instead.
The contemporary fast fashion model is made for mass-production in a quick paste, made affordable and accessible, and this is not sustainable in any way.
The question if fast fashion can ever become sustainable has been discussed by different scholars, as the business model would have to change to make the industry more sustainable, and yet there are not many suggestions to exactly what changes are necessary
On top of that, it’s been proven that companies have more success, when they make people feel better about their purchases.
Company , like CFB, who are genuine, are more likely to value transparency and share their progress with their customers.
Everyone likes to believe that their hard-earned money is going towards something good, be it quality materials and craftsmanship or supporting rural communities.
Unfortunately, some brands that greenwash use this narrative to convey the same sentiments to us without making real change.
How do fashion brands escape with it?
The most significant loophole in sustainability is its lack of a clear, quantifiable definition. Terms such as ‘ethical’ or ‘eco-friendly’ have no legal significance. This encourages the lack of accountability of fashion brands.
Another reason contributing to greenwashing is insufficient public awareness and education around the harmful practices the industry embraces, allowing companies to continue throwing false information.
Fast fashion businesses simply tack a ‘sustainable’ line onto their supply chain, which inherently is hypocritical since fast fashion can never be sustainable.
Moreover, it tricks customers into evaluating brands as more sustainable, simultaneously fueling the fast fashion business model.
In short, brands can take advantage of the lack of regulation and public education to continue spewing false information.
Greenwashing can come in many forms. Here’s a few indicators you can look out for:
- If a brand releases ‘conscious collections’ but doesn’t use facts or figures to support its claims.
- When a brand produces just a small range of its product line sustainably, but promotes itself as conscious.
- When a label makes sweeping marketing statements for commercial gain like ‘shop and save the planet’;
- If a brand overstates its ethical or environmental efforts.
Besides these indicators, costumers can also search for more specific aspects in order to identify if they are truly buying something from a sustainable brand or if the brand is just greenwashing them.
1. Always look for evidence and don’t let marketing deceived you
Instead of being swayed by fancy terms, check online or in-store for clear information about a company’s sustainability agenda.
PTIMG who genuinely prioritize sustainability shares it on the brand website and through their messaging. While this requires more effort, it means you’ll identify greenwashing faster in the future.
2. Look for facts
Truly sustainable fashion brands are more likely to state information about their suppliers, production facilities, materials used and the impact of their decisions.
Transparency is always the first step towards accountability. Most importantly, because of how complex the fashion supply chain is, there are many people involved that go unheard of.
It’s important to look a bit deeper, such as where a brand’s cotton is farmed or polyester recycled, where is it dyed and produced, and even where they source small stuff like buttons or zippers.
3. Look for certifications
If a brand says that their products are ‘100% organic cotton’ or ‘cruelty-free,’ check whether it’s been certified.
From Fair Trade, EcoCert and B Corporation to PETA, GOTS or BCI, these certifications all serve the same purpose: to evaluate a brand’s sustainable practices.
But remember: sustainability is a journey for brands of all sizes, especially emerging labels. Their suppliers often can’t get certified for a number of reasons, including how expensive certification is.
In sum, not seeing a certification doesn’t mean a brand isn’t walking the walk. If you’re truly curious, contact the company about their practices. Most will gladly explain their processes and be as transparent as possible.
4. Natural isn’t always 100% eco-friendly, and vegan doesn’t always equate to cruelty-free
While natural fabrics are favored by sustainable brands because they are breathable and biodegradable, they still have an impact. The same goes for vegan materials. Most are made from synthetic, petroleum-derived fabric.
5. Look beyond the overhyped and insignificant
There are plenty of brands who hype up their sustainable choices to overshadow their other not-so-great ones.
For example, recyclable packaging means nothing if a brand isn’t addressing textile waste or changing their business model. Neither does creating a sustainable capsule collection when it doesn’t even constitute 10% of their total production.
6. Focus on brands with a total approach to sustainability
Support brands, like CFB, that integrate sustainability into everything they do — not just one collection or a handful of pieces. Look at how they approach product design, manufacturing, shipping, packaging; the works.
The rise of greenwashing proves that sustainability is becoming a real priority for brands.
Studies have shown customers are willing to pay more for products that are more sustainable, over products that are not. Learning more about the clothes we wear is a major part of anyone’s sustainability journey.
In this way, PTIMG is fully dedicated sustainable and ethical brand that wants to provide full disclosure on great ways its is making its products – with no greenwashing necessary!
PTIMG Team Sofia Ferreira