Greenwashing and the myth behind it. Are brands really changing their policy?

We have to face it: we need to make some crucial changes in our lifestyle, if we wish to survive - or at least give to our future generations a decent planet where to live. We have been exploiting Earth and its resources for decades now and the results are pretty obvious: the planet is in danger and so are we. Somehow, in this material conception of life, everything can be turned into a business and the industry of “biologic”, “green” and “eco-friendly” is worth billions of dollars. Fashion is a category that has put in a lot of work in terms of money and advertisement into becoming less compromising, pollution-wise. However, are they really changing their attitude, or are these whole “green” campaigns a mere mask?

“Greenwashing” is an English neologism referring to certain marketing strategies, which aim to promote a clearer and greener image of the company. It is constructed and conceived to divert the attention away from the actual impact fast fashion has on the environment. Brands are capitalizing on the fact that people (especially younger generations) are keener to buy sustainable and fair. Doubtless, this wave of consciousness from the younger generations is refreshing, but there are no specific rules that direct and order the matter of ecology and sustainability when it comes to fashion (but we do have regulations concerning food, agriculture and plastic abuse). Not needing to worry about fines or controls, this leaves the door open to the greenwash phenomenon: what we consider to be green and sustainable turns out to be a mere strategic movement, with aim of keeping the incomes high.

There are some independent institutions that can guarantee the effective sustainable aspects within a company. These independent certifications are the indicator of a product’s “eco credentials” which may also include the workers’ conditions, whether they are fairly paid or exploited, for instance. A good example could be the GOTS (acronym for “Global Organic Textile Standard”), even if it is mandatory to specify that working with organic cotton does not make a brand sustainable, we must take into consideration the potentially harmful chemicals used in dyes, water usage (according to the UN Environment Program, 20% of global wastewater is produced throughout the process of clothes-making, with Asia being the continent mostly affected) and CO2 emissions.

From the costumer’s point of view, what we can do is to be careful when shopping: by doing it consciously, we could drastically reduce the amount of pollution and wastewater. So here you have a few tips:

  • Try and buy new clothes only if you need them.

  • Give a chance to second-hand items (vintage is very en vogue).

  • Inform yourself and check if your favourite brands are, finally, green and are not merely greenwashing.

At the end of the day, we are the ones who move the market, and if we try to be more aware of what happens behind a mannequin, maybe we still have a chance at giving our nieces and nephews a better planet and a more respectful attitude toward Mother Earth.

Articolo a cura di: Victoria Pevere

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