What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is a marketing tool used by company’s to portray that their products, production or policies are environmentally friendly when they are not. 

The term “greenwashing” was coined in 1986 by environmentalist Jay Westerveld, to describe outrageous corporate environmental claims - back then it was through the means of television, radio and print media. 

Although greenwashing has been around since the 80’s, its use has increased rapidly in recent years as more consumers demand for sustainable and ethical production and products. A study by TerraChoice Environmental Marketing shows an increase of 79% greenwashing claims between 2007 and 2009. 

Now that fashion’s impact on the environment is in the spotlight more than ever, more company’s are moving towards a sustainable and ethical direction. But how can we tell if they are being genuine or if they are “greenwashing?” Many company’s continue to pollute, abuse and overuse. They are hiding the bad and spotlighting the good, and it’s up to us to know who is pushing for a better future in fashion. 

In recent years, multiple fast fashion stores have launched ‘organic’ or ‘sustainable’ collections. Often these collections are very small in comparison to the rest of their production, so don’t be fooled into thinking the company has changed for the good (there is still a lot of work to do). 

Recycling initiatives such as ‘recycled’ packaging are a marketing tool used to make it look like a brand is reducing waste. However these initiatives don’t make up for the production processes which cause endless amounts of waste and pollution. 

At the end of the day it is up to every single one of us to avoid brands who greenwash and to support brands who are open and honest about how, where and who makes their clothing.