About Greenwashing and How You Can Avoid It

With the growing demand for sustainable practices in recent years, many companies have adopted green marketing strategies to boost their brand image and appeal to new customers. The problem is, it has gotten difficult for us to distinguish companies that truly dedicate themselves to protecting the planet from those that incorporate green campaigns to garner more profits.

The latter is a practice known as “greenwashing”; where corporations across various industries (fashion included), use a PR spin to demonstrate that they are more environmentally conscious than it is, in fact, the case. Such an example is the abundance of corporations that take advantage of Earth Day as a marketing opportunity to appear more “green” and sustainable once a year.

Unfortunately, more often than not, companies “greenwash” in order to cover their deeds which actually harm the environment. In response to this practice, various groups including Greenpeace have called out these actors and push consumers to make better choices. One of the most common greenwashing strategies, they point out, is when a company promotes an eco-friendly product while its core practices are fundamentally unsustainable or polluting.

As such, it is best to get familiar with some basic rules of Greenwash avoidance. Learn about who is truly green and look beyond marketing claims, such as understanding the components that make up the product and conduct extensive research on the company’s environmental commitment. It's crucial see if the product contains any substantial information, since advertisements (as we know) shouldn’t be taken at face value. On this note, Futerra’s 2015 Selling Sustainability Report offers 10 primary rules which we can easily adapt to avoid getting “greenwashed”.

Another method is to find certifications that have been vetted by a reliable third-party. Rather than ascribing to products that merely claim to be made with organic materials, cross-check if they are indeed supported by a certified Organic label that meets the federal government’s organic standard. Ecolabel Index, in this case, can be used as a point of reference as it tracks over 400 different labels in 197 countries, across 25 sectors.

Do you also have some advice to give for avoiding greenwashed claims and making ethical fashion purchases? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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