• Fashion

This is how you avoid greenwashing

Insight from designer Natalija Bouropoulos

By Natalija Bouropoulos

While the growing number of fashion companies responding to the climate crisis is hugely positive, it can be difficult to understand as a consumer whether you are being responsible or buying into greenwashing.⁣ 

Greenwashing is when a brand’s marketing around sustainability contradicts its actual business practices. 

While brands are making great efforts to become more environmentally friendly, there is no doubt that some brands are entering this green trend in order to sell more clothing.

As a small business, it’s frustrating to figure out whether your efforts are actually part of monumental change. There are so many companies announcing their sustainability initiatives in the fashion industry, that it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s fake; and whether your intentional actions to make an impact and do things differently is being recognised among all the noise.

It’s easy for a brand to claim they are ethical, organic, conscious, transparent, even sustainable – and not have to prove it. Accountability is what’s missing. 

As consumers, we need to challenge what we are being told. Do your research and ask questions. Look at the company’s website, read what they are doing, and begin to recognise genuine efforts. 


How to avoid greenwashing

  1. Look for numbers not words that support a brands’ claims. It’s easy to rattle off buzzwords like “eco-friendly” and “sustainably made”, but what percentage are made with natural or recycled materials?
  2. Research the fibres Natural materials such as viscose, rayon and bamboo aren’t always eco-friendly Many brands promote these fabrics, but it really depends on how they’re sourced. For example, 150 million trees are cut down for viscose production every year. Viscose is only responsible if it comes from a certified source. Similarly to bamboo, it is sometimes grown with pesticides and chemicals. And unless it comes from an organic source, bamboo can have a devastating effect on the environment.
  3. Who made your clothes? While brands are increasingly publishing more information about their suppliers for example where they are located, there is often less transparency about who is making their clothing. Look to see whether they are providing insight into the actual treatment of their factory workers, the conditions they are working in, and whether you are seeing the faces behind the clothes.
  4. Look at all aspects of the brand Invest in brands that take a holistic approach and integrate sustainability into everything they do, rather than just focussing on individual aspects of their business. 


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