The growing importance of sustainability has unfortunately also given rise to greenwashing amongst fast fashion brands. As per an extra.ie report, the term, first coined in 1980, has once again come under spotlight with consumers’ increasing demand for sustainable fashion brands. Laura Egan, Owner, Studio Minti, defines Greenwashing as misleading of consumers by brands by falsely projecting their practices as being sustainable. Egan cites the example of some print ads released by US oil company Chevron in the 1960s that falsely depicted its environment-friendly policy by making employees pose with animals like sea turtles.
Putting up ‘sustainability façade’
Companies resort to Greenwashing to capitalize on the demand for sustainable products amongst consumers, says Egan. They often spend more on putting a façade of sustainability rather than actually being sustainable. A study by Neilsen Holdings in 2015 showed 66 per cent consumers were willing to invest more in sustainable products. Today, this figure has risen to 73 per cent. Consumers need to evaluate the sustainability approaches of companies to see whether it is a holistic one or limited to one specific factory or product. At times, conscious’ brands promote their collections made from so-called ‘sustainable’ fabrics. Consumers need to be wary of such brands that inadvertently indulge in mass production and stop buying from them.
Awareness can lead to more sustainable choices
Often, brands focus on a minor sustainability details like recycled fabrics, ignoring larger issues involving the ethical and environmental aspects of their production. For instance, fast fashion brand Primark claims to adhere to international working standards in its factories. It also claims to have stopped using chemical dyes and raw materials in its garments. However, Egan rubbishes the claims made by the brand and calls them frustrating. She recommends consumers to buy more secondhand clothes as they contribute to a circular economy.
Egar also recommends opening of swap shops to enable consumers exchange clothes with others. According to her, this would enable owe something new without paying a cent and contributing to the fast fashion industry.
Emphasizing that reducing fast fashion consumption may not happen overnight, Egan urges consumers to be aware of its environmental hazards. According to her, this will help them alter their shopping habits and make more sustainable decisions.