How To Know When A Fashion Brand Is Greenwashing You?

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Greenwashing is the new black! And this makes the fashion industry as gloomy as the color. It is just one of those practices we, as consumers, don’t deserve; and neither does the planet. So, now the question arises of how to know if a brand is greenwashing. So, we’ve listed seven ways to identify companies that are greenwashing you.

But first, what exactly is greenwashing?

What is greenwashing?

In the fashion industry, greenwashing is a marketing tactic used to entice customers to make purchases based on the illusion that the brand is sustainable. Greenwashing is a fashion lie that has many people believing that a brand’s products are both environmentally and ethically sound. They are, however, very far from it in reality.

How do fashion brands try to greenwash?

A fashion label will greenwash if it believes it is cleverer than you. However, after reading several of our Fashion – GoodGuides, we know you can’t be misled. In a nutshell, this tactic won’t work on you once you identify how brands try to greenwash you.

1. Impressive-sounding initiatives

greenwashing by brands

Certain companies that are greenwashing make lofty claims about their ethical standards while being immoral in reality. These impressive-sounding initiatives can include things like taking steps to reduce their carbon emissions, creating a sustainable brand, or taking all required environmental measures. But in reality, they’re merely making these claims seem impressive and appealing!

How to avoid getting greenwashed

However, before purchasing from any clothing brand, you can always visit their website or conduct your own research to find out their stand in the market.

2. Unreal marketing and advertising strategies

marketing and advertising strategies by brands

One of the best examples of greenwashing involves a company that portrays itself as knowing all about sustainability, while actually doing everything that is wrong for the planet. The companies that are greenwashing use difficult-to-understand language in addition to powerful advertising strategies. Although these tactics are often presented as ethical or sustainable, they’re not!

How to avoid getting greenwashed

Look at a brand’s reviews to learn more about it and to find out what people are saying about it. Also, avoid being misled by fancy language; instead, research the company’s products and employees’ treatment.

3. Companies that are greenwashing are not transparent

consumers believing companies that are greenwashing

Sustainable fashion would never involve a company misrepresenting its facts and figures. Instead, a brand that embraces sustainability will openly communicate its practices on all of its platforms. Truly sustainable clothing brands are more likely to provide information about the entire supply and distribution chain. So, to identify a sustainable company, just observe how transparent they are.

How to avoid getting greenwashed

In the case of fabrics, you can always check to see if the cotton sourced is not only organic but also ethically produced. In a similar way, you can make sure the supposedly sustainable company avoids using fabrics that are chemically treated and dyed.

4. Brands have certifications, but are they really true?

100% sustainable certifications

As they say, “don’t judge a book by its cover.” You shouldn’t assume that just because a fashion brand has a certification, it is genuine. One of the other common greenwashing examples includes a brand claiming its products are ‘100% cruelty-free,’ or ‘vegan.’ Often, these brands also state that they are sustainable, but are their production practices truly ethical? You can always find out through their website or double-check their certifications.

How to avoid getting greenwashed

To ensure the brand is just as committed to the environment as you are, look for certifications like SANE, B-Corp, GOTS, Fair Trade, or BCI. But regrettably, some new sustainable clothing brands don’t get certified too soon. But, if you’re looking forward to a sustainable brand, you can always ask them about their practices. They would be more than happy to help you out.

5. Sustainable doesn’t always mean eco-friendly

sustainable vs eco-friendly labels by companies that are greenwashing
GoodGuilt / Canva

If you’re thinking about how to avoid being greenwashed by brands, you first need to know the difference between various sustainable fashion terms. You need to first identify if a brand is actually even remotely as ethical as it sounds because sustainable doesn’t necessarily mean eco-friendly, and vegan doesn’t necessarily imply ethical. Even while some clothing may be vegan, if the fabric was not sourced responsibly, the brand is misleading you.

How to avoid getting greenwashed

When looking for sustainable fashion brands, you must first know what you are looking for specifically. Companies that are greenwashing will smartly only claim what you want to hear. But only after you go in-depth will you understand what you are looking for is not a 100% sustainable brand!

6. Look at the overall brand instead of just one of its ‘conscious’ collections

h&m conscious collection
H&M/ Youtube

You know we’re talking about brands like H&M here, don’t you? Certain companies that are greenwashing will launch a collection that is supposedly ethical, but their other products are merely a shame to this conscious collection. These brands greenwash you into thinking they have you on board with one sustainable collection, whereas their other collections are not good for the planet.

How to avoid getting greenwashed

The goal is never to get overshadowed by just one mere conscious product or collection by brands that are greenwashing you. Instead, choose brands that are truly sustainable, ethical, or organic!

7. Keep an eye out on the brand’s packaging

packaging of companies that are greenwashing

Other examples of greenwashing include recyclable packaging, which isn’t followed by other sustainable practices. The brands claiming to “know it all” are not even putting their efforts into reducing waste or adding less to the landfills. So, it means nothing if the brand isn’t addressing textile waste or changing its business strategy. Be on the lookout for brands that promote ‘sustainable,’ ‘recyclable,’ or ‘green’ shipping – always a good idea.

How to avoid getting greenwashed

You can, however, always support a brand if they have begun to take measures to reduce their waste or carbon footprint. Because it’s likely that many sustainable companies begin working later on their sustainable measures and products, with recyclable packaging.

So, are fashion brands greenwashing?

data of sustainability claims

Yes, is the clear-cut response. The Norwegian Consumer Authority accused the brand H&M in 2020 of misleading consumers with its Conscious Collection (which still exists today). At the same time, Zara scored slightly less than 50% for its environmental sustainability. So, not just a few, but even fashion industry titans like Zara and H&M are companies that are greenwashing. And this also means you should stop shopping from brands as glamorous as Shein.

How do you identify greenwashing brands?

Look past the claims in advertisements, analyze the ingredients, or speak with the company’s employees to learn the truth about the brand’s environmental commitment. Additionally, look for brands with certifications that a reliable third party has verified. So, if you’re falling for false claims, you’re somehow contributing to harming the environment. However, if fashion brands must uphold it, so do you, as consumers. So, decide which brands to support and which to avoid. But never let just one brand mislead you into thinking that all other sustainable fashion brands are doing the same.

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