Greenwashing is the practice of making an unsubstantiated or misleading claim about the environmental benefits of a product, service, or company practice and can make a company appear to be more environmentally-friendly than it really is.

There’s been an increasing amount of buzz around the terms ‘sustainable’, ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘natural’ in Textiles and Fashion (yes, especially around COP26!) The rising interest in sustainability amongst “Millennials” and “Gen Z” consumers specially, coupled with their increase in purchasing power, is influencing businesses to take notice of certain wording. However, rather than truly going “green”, certain brands and business are taking the greenwashing route instead.

For example, while natural fabrics are favored by sustainable brands because they are breathable and biodegradable, they still have an impact. Even cotton and linen have social and environmental ramifications beyond what we can see and feel. The same goes for vegan materials as most are made from synthetic fabrics (especially synthetic alternatives to leather which are basically just plastic!)

What we would like to see are more brands engaging in discussions around materials and beginning to talk about appropriate use rather than telling us that your material is ‘sustainable’ or ‘green’ in some vague undefinable way. Lets talk about why you used it! Why it was the best option for that garment, bag etc. Why in that context was it the best fiber for the longevity of the product and how does this all combine to impact the sustainability of the product over it’s life time not just the production of the fabric.

Sustainability isn’t easy or simple. It’s complex, the answers are messy and constantly evolving. Anyone that tells you otherwise is just trying to sell you something. So lets start demanding more of brands and businesses and begin to champion those getting involved in the conversation.

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