Scrolling down our Instagram/Facebook or Pinterest feed has become part of our daily routine, within it, we get our daily doses of advertising, some of those ads are relevant to us, some others not. But what happens when the information we’re getting is misleading?
Currently for a brand, being, or having a collection that is “sustainable” is the new “must”, that word has become the new golden goose, and everyone wants a golden egg. As a result of this, we have brands making sustainable claims but no plans to slow their production or pay their workers what is fair.
First, let’s take a step back and explain what Greenwashing is? Greenwashing is when a company or organization spends more time and money on marketing themselves as environmentally friendly than on minimizing their environmental impact. Quite misleading from a consumer perspective view, right?
We think it’s very important to talk about Greenwashing, its consequences and how we could avoid it.
A few weeks ago, we joined a chat called “Greenwashing Regulations” by Compare Ethics, and they discussed something very interesting - which we think could be the root of the issue. They discussed the fact that there is no universally agreed definition of what “sustainable” is, and there is no recognised framework that specifies what the standards of “sustainability” are. Obviously, it’s not going to be easy to achieve a global definition, so that’s why the claims that companies make should be more specific.
In Saatxa, we don’t use the word “sustainable” lightly, we believe it’s very difficult for a brand to be “sustainable”, hence why we focus on values such as eco-friendly, slow production and ethical when looking for brands to be part of our platform.
When we first started looking for brands that shared our ethos (mainly on Instagram), we realised how a few profiles that identified themselves as “green/ethical…” didn’t share much information on their website, and when we approached them and asked for more info, some simply didn’t reply. That’s why we believe that to avoid being “greenwashed” we should demand transparency from the brands. Companies should prioritize their claims instead of making very vague ones, they should be more specific, and it’s only possible to do that when you have a clear map of your ethos and how you can achieve them.
Our experience is with medium-sized brands, but we have fast-fashion brands claiming to launch “sustainable” collections, but let us stop here for a minute. If X brand is using “organic cotton and recycled polyester” to create a £15 shirt for its “sustainable/green/conscious collection”, do you think they are missing something on those claims? Yes, they are. Information. Those claims are misleading, there’s a big difference between the environmental footprint of organic cotton, which will decompose, and recycled polyester, which will never biodegrade. Or what does it mean when a brand says “made in Europe? Does made in Europe mean made by people working under fair conditions? Sadly, not necessarily. That’s why they need to be more specific with their claims.
We don’t believe the guilt of all this should be on the customers, these corporations know exactly what they are doing. So, how to avoid being greenwashed?
- Transparency (the main one if you ask us). We need to demand more information from the brands we like if something is not clear. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
We know how difficult it is sometimes to get overloaded with information, for example, in our case we interviewed each of our brands, so before buying their products you can check their blog post to learn more about them.
- Too good to be true? A “sustainable/green/conscious” brand that launches a new collection every two weeks or every month, can’t be what it claims.
- Google it. If you are not sure about something, that’s the best tool.
- Trust your gut!
Let’s all spread the word about Greenwashing because remember as a customer we’re the ones who decide where we want to spend our money. Let’s not allow these greenwashers to manipulate us with beautiful words and images.