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Greenwashing: what it is, and how does it affect us?

There have always been companies that try to sugarcoat their products/services, trying to show they are perfect, even if they have blatant flaws. Something similar is happening within the fashion industry too, and it’s becoming more and more problematic. The concept is called greenwashing, and it all comes down to companies not being honest with their customers.

What does greenwashing mean?

Greenwashing is a process through which companies are trying to spread misinformation and make their product feel safe and reliable. Greenwashing is used by many fashion companies, with the idea of making customers think their products are environmentally sound and secure. That’s not the case because these companies tend to either overshadow or hide crucial parts of their process. In doing so, they appear eco-friendly; however, they are not transparent and avoid including key elements that would show the truth behind these concepts.

Why is greenwashing popular among fashion companies?

The reason why greenwashing has become such a crucial part of many fashion companies is that it helps generate sales. That false sense of helping the environment and not damaging it does help move the needle and push some customers to buy. Those clients would not purchase these fashion products if they knew the truth, and fashion companies know that.

Instead of admitting to the truth and being honest, they sugarcoat it and hide key elements. They make their products seem recyclable, free of any chemicals, or just healthier in general, but that’s not always the case. Instead, they convey a false impression of security and eco-friendliness, and that generates sales.

Either they hide some key components or materials, or they try to downplay the importance of any downsides, even if they are very significant. It’s how some of these brands made a name and lots of profit for themselves. Even if some of them tend to go the organic or eco-friendly route down the line, they still use greenwashing as a way to generate sales, especially in the beginning.

Some examples of greenwashing

For example, you will notice that you have a plastic package that contains fashion products that are shown as recyclable. However, it’s the packaging that’s recyclable here and not the fashion product itself. Then there are other things like using certain materials that appear eco-friendly, but you also have an asterisk showing the material used is a derivative. These misleading situations work with some people, and that’s why these brands continue to do it.

On top of that, it can be very hard to verify if a company is sustainable or eco-friendly. Greenwashing includes this terminology because not only is it hard to verify, but some companies also have some parts of their production process eco-friendly. That blurs the line even more yet still hides the truth.

How can you spot greenwashing?

Greenwashing can be hard to spot because these companies have become extremely good at hiding things over the years. However, a good rule of thumb is to try and get past the fancy wording. Some fashion companies say they are eco-friendly, they are fully green, etc. That’s not the case in many situations, so getting past all those fancy words can be a good starting point.

Another thing to look out for would be any recognized certifications. If a company is truly eco-friendly, then it will have certifications from some of the major trades. Suppose you’re buying eco-friendly products from the US. In that case, certifications like Green Seal, USDA organic, non-GMO project, Fair Trade, or Rainforest Alliance certifications are the ones to look out for. There are similar organizations worldwide; try to find local ones for your specific country.

As we said earlier, some companies do greenwashing by sending recyclable packaging just to throw you off. Ideally, you want to opt for minimal packaging or a company that actually shows how to recycle their products. That way, you know they are legit and don’t try to hide under a moniker even if they are not telling the truth.

Plus, any distractions on the packaging or things that seem too good to be true will usually be a part of greenwashing, too. Any claims, combined with random additions to packaging or features that might seem unnecessary, can sometimes be there to make you think a product is eco-friendly. Checking the materials used for that garment and any certifications will help you fight greenwashing a lot easier and quicker.


It’s very important to know what is greenwashing, so we can fight against it and not encourage this type of behavior. Fashion companies have a lot to gain from misleading customers and making them think they are buying eco-friendly products. They are generating a lot of sales, and despite that, people working on their products still have very low-paying jobs and unhealthy work conditions. It’s imperative not to support greenwashing, and these tips shown above will help you avoid it with great results!

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