Lately the buzz words ‘sustainable’, ‘natural’ and eco friendly are being sold to us in brand campaigns and enticing product services, from fashion to food. With the guilt of consumerism looming large over a generation of conscious millennial and Gen-Z buyer bases, the demand for mindful lifestyle choices is the new norm and that includes fashion.
The market seems to be saturated with performative market strategies and unethical products being sold under the garb of eco-consciousness or better known as ‘greenwashing’!
What is Greenwashing?
For the uninitiated, greenwashing refers to a capitalistic tactic used by businesses to exploit the sentiment of eco-anxiety as a means of marketing without actually switching to an ethical business model. The growing sentiment of switching to slow fashion has redirected the fashion industry’s inner workings as well. With no legal foundation or set governance, brands are latching on to free-for-all of claims that put customers and investors in a bizarre loop of being deceived.
Some of our favourite companies have been guilty of greenwashing by overstating their environmental and ethical efforts. Apparel giants of the likes of Zara and HM are guilty of advertising ‘ethical’ apparel while hiding the devastating trade-offs that never come to light.
Poor worker conditions, no proof of eco claims, false implications of actual sustainable efforts, falsely marketed eco-claims and tags, for example tagging apparels with green labels and adding trees to create a deceptive image are few of the many evil malpractices that constitute greenwashing.
This abhorrent culture of surface-level sustainability, unfortunately, plagues the fashion industry at large and misleads the cultural dialogue on the climate crisis. Not to mention, the insurmountable carbon footprint that goes unnoticed as customers engage in mindless consumerism and feel good about themselves.
Coming to the burning question, How do we build a truly sustainable wardrobe while navigating the insidious problem of greenwashing?
I. For starters, look into the brand’s design ethos to ensure sustainability isn’t an ‘aesthetic’ but rather a fundamental tenet in its business model.
II. Numbers speak larger than idle promises. Keep an eye out for facts and figures backing the ‘conscious collections’ you plan to invest in.
III. Don’t buy into labels that promote marketing statements like ‘shop and save the earth’ or ‘go green and glam’ that can be exaggerated overstatements and tend to be misleading.
IV. No label can go green overnight. Time and resources chart a long road ahead.
V. Invest in brands like Doodlage and Urban Darzi that work with sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, corn fabric, banana fabric and discarded textile from large manufacturers.
VI. Finally, choose to ‘shop smart not hard’ as you approach a wardrobe with selected pieces that are bound to last long and suit your individual taste rather than circulating on the fleeting trend bandwagon. Remember that a little bit of sustainability goes a long way. Set out on your journey to be an ethical fashionista one mindful purchase at a time.
If you enjoyed reading this article, we suggest you also read: