Greenwashing? How to Spot It.

What is greenwashing?

In recent years, environmental issues have become a global concern. “Green” and “sustainability” are not only new trends pursued by many brands but also a kind of lifestyle. Environmentalist Jay Westervelt coined the term "Greenwashing" in 1986 when a company uses misleading or false claims to show that its impact on the environment is greater than it is. In practical terms, this is a trap that encourages over-consumption, leads to wasteful behavior, or passes the buck to the company.

According to Haber (2021), Greenwashing is part of a wider "color wash" practice, including rainbow washes (LGBTQ+). Companies advertise their pride products rather than partnering with queer artists or supporting equal rights. Do the companies truly care about or genuinely support those topics? It is hard to tell but there are several ways we can spot it.

Here are three ways to be wary of greenwashing:

  • Look for numbers
  • What we can do is take a deeper look at the recycled material percentage in a product or see how many quantifiable goals the brands are publicly listing. Numbers talk better than words.

  • Check out the certifications
  • When an enterprise does utilize organic or sustainable materials, they will be able to provide the certifications, for instance, Cradle to Cradle Certified™, OEKO-TEX® and Bluesign®. 

  • Vegan does not completely reflect sustainability
  • It is common to hear of “vegan” in the fashion field. Vegan can mean products made from synthetic alternatives to leather and fur. The truth is that even if they don’t come from animals, they're often made from petroleum, which can be harmful to our planet.

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