Avoiding Vegan Sustainable Fashion Scams
Consumers’ growing awareness of the fashion industry’s negative effects on the environment, climate, and society has resulted in a flood of “ethical” clothing labels, as companies scramble to show that they, too, care about the world’s people and their future.
The virtuous proclamations and campaigns can often amount to greenwashing, which is environmental marketing with little or no substance to back claims, or in some cases “clearwashing,” where the information doesn’t tell consumers much. Those labels are often more of a marketing gimmick than a way to tell whether or not a product is better for the environment and its garment workers.
Associate professor of design, housing, and merchandising at Oklahoma State University Cosette Joyner Martinez defines greenwashing as “kind of a mix of the absence of meaningful information, but it’s also the tweaking and wordsmithing of things in a way that sounds awesome, but there’s no evidence that’s been supplied.” “We’re going to give you the appearance of rich information that’s ultimately not meaningful. That’s what clearwashing is like.” Just giving me the Chinese supplier’s physical address doesn’t help me understand the situation there.
Many consumers have difficulty making decisions because they are given misleading or insufficient information. Professor of fashion design and critical studies at California College of the Arts Lynda Grose says, “Customers are informed mostly by company marketing, and that’s where the confusion comes in.” Companies always put their best foot forward, and they are choosy about what they want to share publicly and what they want to keep under wraps. A lot of people are going to be confused by that.
According to Roland Geyer, a professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara, it can be difficult to determine whether a brand is intentionally or unintentionally exaggerating their claims.
Geyer says it can be difficult to determine whether an organisation or its members are intentionally misleading customers or are sincere but misguided in their belief that their approach will have the greatest impact.
Learning to think critically and doing your homework will help you sort out the truth from the fiction when it comes to the world of fashion. This article will go over some of the most common types of greenwashing, as well as advice from experts on how to evaluate products and their claims.
Generally meaningless cliches
Warning signs include a retailer’s use of environmental or socially conscious buzzwords like “sustainable” to describe themselves or their products without providing additional evidence or explanation.
According to Remake’s chief marketing officer Katrina Caspelich, “there really is no industry agreed-upon or legal definition of sustainability.” Remake is a global nonprofit organisation fighting for fair pay and climate justice in the clothing industry. Brands, in order to justify pay, expansion, and profits, are “really defining sustainability based on their own interpretations,” as one author puts it.
Experts agree that a company can claim its products are “sustainable” even if it only addresses one aspect of its resource-intensive and emissions-heavy supply chain, such as reducing the amount of water required to make its clothes.
However, sustainability is actually much trickier than that. For example, cotton is generally seen as more sustainable than polyester because polyester is typically produced from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource, and is associated with high levels of carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. However, Joyner Martinez explains that the sustainability of cotton is contingent on a number of factors, including how it was grown and processed and whether or not harmful chemicals were used to treat the fibres. However, “none of that information will be disclosed so that the sustainable [claim] is never really substantiated,” as she puts it.
Experts say that a company’s certifications and efforts to support more sustainable practises can show that it is serious about the issue. Conventional organic clothing certifications include the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and the Organic Content Standard (OCS). Some companies are also involved in sustainability initiatives for cotton by joining groups like the Better Cotton Initiative.
The way an item of clothing is worn, and in particular how long it is worn before it ends up in a landfill, is an important factor in gauging its long-term sustainability. According to Joyner Martinez, “the brass ring is garment longevity” when discussing sustainable clothing consumption.