June 12, 2019

How to Avoid Greenwashing in Fashion

Shopping for ethically made and sustainable clothing can feel like navigating a maze of ‘green’, ‘eco’ and ‘ethical’ claims. As many of you know, marketing isn’t always reality.

While you’re shopping you may be asking: 'how can I really know if this eco-friendly dress is actually eco-friendly?'. We totally get how frustrating it can be as a shopper, that’s why at TAMGA we are transparent about our sourcing and give you as much information as possible about our clothing - so you can feel confident about your purchase. BUT, we also want to help you navigate the sustainable fashion world as a whole.

This post will help answer questions like 'what is greenwashing?', 'How can you identify greenwashing, and how can you avoid it?'. This will help clear the confusion and make your sustainable shopping experience THAT much easier.

What is Greenwashing?

To put it simply, greenwashing is a marketing tool used by companies to make it their environmental impact seem greater than it actually is. Companies that greenwash will use terms like 'sustainable', 'green' and 'eco-friendly' in their advertising without much information to back it up. 

When you’re shopping, keep in mind that truly environmentally friendly and sustainable companies will be able to back up these claims with facts and details. To put it simply, they should have clear information beyond the buzzwords in their marketing. If they're not backing up their claims, ask questions and expect straightforward answers. 

Greenwashing and Fast-Fashion

So, you’ve found this really cool brand and it looks like their eco-friendly, but you can’t find any information on their initiatives. Large corporations have figured out that millennials are more likely to make a purchase if they think it is environmentally friendly. These companies have the ability to spend thousands on clever marketing campaigns that give the appearance of sustainability. Since there aren’t regulations on using words like 'sustainable', 'green' or 'eco' in marketing campaigns, they can be used by pretty much any company (check out this 'eco' plastic water bottle ad).

Be aware of how products are marketed to you and ask questions (check out the list of questions below for a starting point). Taking the time to look deeper into how a product was made can be a helpful experience when you’re trying to understand the sustainability of an item.

If you’re looking to avoid falling for greenwashing in fashion, follow these tips:

1. FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION

Look at the materials your clothing is made out of, even do a quick google search on the material + 'sustainability'. For example 'TENCEL sustainability' will give you a range of articles examining the impact of this fibre.

    2. POKE AROUND THE COMPANY

    If you’re looking at a specific brand and want to know more about their green initiatives, look around their website. Any brand truly works to lower their impact will share at least some information on their website (after all, it's good for sales!). 

      3. BE WARY OF BUZZWORDS

      Some companies slip in the terms eco-friendly, sustainable, green or ethical as ways to spin the story of their clothing. We all use these terms and they're good starting points, but the presence of these words alone should never be enough. 

        4. CAN THEY PROVE IT?

        Truly eco-friendly brands will be over the moon to explain their green initiatives, and if you have questions they will be willing to answer them. When in doubt go online and find a corporate email address (or a chat box if they have one). Shoot off some messages or concerns you are having and wait for a response.

          5. SET A BENCHMARK FOR TRANSPARENCY

          Once you've found a sustainable fashion brand with real transparency, ask other brands to share the same amount of information! At TAMGA we’re proud of our ethical supply chain model and are very transparent on what goes into making our clothing – have a look at our fabrics, our factories and our giving back programs and feel free to ask us anything! 


            Navigating the sustainable clothing industry can be confusing and lately, it seems that every company is shouting out about their green initiatives (less noise, more substance please!). Don’t get too overwhelmed, just research ahead and shop smart!   

             

            Brooke Harrison

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