Greenwashing : How Large Corporations Attempt to Appear Sustainable
Zara has promised that by 2025, all its garments will be made from 100% sustainable materials.
"So until then, keep buying our products kids, and buy more of them. But you'll feel good about it, as you're helping us achieve this monumental (yet not so monumental) goal."
In a storm of confidently raised awareness, consumers are demanding real change and using their money to cast a very important vote. When they can afford it, they will spend a little more and opt to buy from a brand which prioritises their ethical practices, like People Tree or Everlane. Large companies like Inditex who own Zara have not turned a blind eye to this. They know that if they do not change their ways, their sales will slowly see a decline as ethical fashion becomes more mainstream and therefore, more affordable.
Sadly, this practice, also known as 'greenwashing' is everywhere, and I'll bet you can already think of a few more examples. "Greenwashing (a compound word modelled on 'whitewash'), also called 'green sheen', is a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception an organization's products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly."
Toys R Us recently released a line of reusable bags that customers could buy. They had done nothing to de-toxify their toys though, with harmful chemicals being used in paints regularly, not to mention the fact that the toys main components, plastic, is not biodegradable. Hair and beauty brands are among the perpetrators, with Garnier recently releasing several products to appeal to the UK Vegan market. Whilst not techincally 'greenwashing' the brand did try to appeal to a new booming consumer group whilst failing to address a very important tidbit.
Whilst Garnier and their parent company, L'oreal may have chosen not to put any animal based ingredients into their latest products (such as beeswax, honey or milk), they still remain to this day a company notorious for rigorous animal testing. To use the terms "vegan formula" is a slap in the face to anyone who lives a plant based lifestyle as vegans will not consume any products tested on animals. Not being cruelty-free in the slightest, Garnier have just slapped a label on their product and hoped to take advantage of an untapped market.
One of the best ones I had come accross was Huggies and their new organic cotton diapers, when Kimberly Clark never actually confirmed whether this cotton was certified organic. Plus, they only included it on the outer lining of the nappy, not the inner. They have never to this day produced one biodegradable diaper.
Why Should You Care?
It is possible to be one of the consumers that stands against this trend, and it is possible to do it without paying an arm and a leg too. There are plenty companies out there who do genuinely prioritise the earth's wellbeing, and they are worth buying. Here are some ways in which you can avoid falling into the Greenwahing Trap:
1) Check labels.
Its all well and good when your cereal aims to be made from 'natural' ingredients or your showerl gel to be 'eco friendly' but if you don't understand some of the ingredients in the list on the packaging, put that baby down.
2) Look for certifications (outside body ones).
If a company certifies its own product as being 'organic,' 'vegan,' or 'environentally friendly,' be wary. Some examples of genuine certifiying bodies include The Leaping Bunny (for cruelty-free products), Soil Association (non intensively farmed and organic products), GOTS (organic cotton), The Vegan Society brand and the Rainforest Alliance.
3) Learn Who owns Who
So many seemingly smaller brands that appear to be greener than the multinationals are often, in fact owned by those multinationals. Did you know that Scott's and Quaker's oats both are owned by Pepsico?
Did you also know that Innocent, the family friendly smoothie and juice drink brand is owned by Coca-Cola? Yep...scary times.
We always encourage you to be an empowered consumer and to champion the companies that strive to make a difference. Sometimes it's not easy for those companies in question. Our brand itself prides itself on being zero -waste, made from biodegradable fabrics and a champion of bringing organic lingerie to the mainstream fashion platform. If you would like to browse our collection, click here. You can also read our story by clicking here.
For more information, please read sources below. They contain some excellent insights, and hard truths.
Thanks for reading x