PSA: This is not a session of guided meditation.
Close your eyes, take a deep breath and imagine the colour green.
What comes to your mind? Is it some grass, a large pasture that looks like the default windows XP wallpaper, vast forests, or a sense of closeness to Mother Earth?
Wait, doesn’t this sound like another CSR campaign by some big corporation to spread the word about their so-called environmentally friendly operations?
All industries practise corporate social responsibility by hook or by crook (mostly by crook, because who doesn’t like huge profits and appearing planet-friendly is the best way to get them!). If we start calling them out, we might as well write a thesis on it.
But we’ll stick to the most glamorous industry in this blog – the Fast Fashion industry!
Here, the motto is ‘Jo Dikhta Hai, Wohi Bikta Hai’
Why do fast fashion industries greenwash?
The first reason is that everyone wants to do their chunk for the environment before it’s too late. It is also because of the shift in consumer behavior, they expect brands to be more conscious of their impact on society. So these fast fashion brands paint every word in their campaign green to showcase ‘SUSTAINABILITY’ and ‘sustainable living’ in their CSR campaigns when actually it’s full of plastic and unfulfilled promises.
The second reason is the backlash that some of these big-banner brands recently faced due to their unethical work culture and anti-environmental practices. GenZ is trying to save their future, and often takes these things seriously. Now, since a majority of the fast fashion customers are GenZ, they HAVE to pretend to be ethical (although, instead of pretending they can take steps to be ethical).
They might have promised to use only recycled materials by 2030, but they are still selling you fast fashion! And the harm and pollution they are causing to the environment can’t be rectified.
Just like H&M, they also made a ‘promise’ to switch to renewable energy by 2030 in their operations, and to fully implement the usage of sustainable materials by 2040. Sadly, it comes as no surprise that they aren’t anywhere near their goals.
This Japanese manufacturer produces cheap polymer-based plastic products and yet their website reads, “For more than 20 years, Uniqlo has been on a path to sustainability. As a global company creating responsible clothing, we are committed to a healthy planet, society, and people.”
While these examples infuriate us and make us question ourselves, we should know if a company is trying to be green or is really green.
How to find out if companies are greenwashing?
Check those flashy “Green” words
These companies generally find and market words like chemical-free, clean, eco-friendly etc., to charm woke customers who want to do more.
Check if the company is selling ‘The Lesser of Two Evils’ narratives
They generally sell a narrative that their product is better or more sustainable than some other product.
Check the certifications these brands provide
They may provide certifications about their processes being sustainable, but it’s your job to research and check whether it’s false advertising or not.
What to Do?
Simply put, thrifting refers to going at a garage sale, thrift store, or flea market for buying gently used items at a discounted price. You can always thrift or rent your outfits from companies like Bombay Closet Cleanse, The Local Thrift and MIRINWON.
We cannot undo the damage already done to the planet with plastic waste and fabric pollution. But the best we can do is NOT add to it. Avoid impulsive shopping at every possible cost- even if you thrift or buy sustainable products. These clothes will eventually end up in the trash can and pile up on the pre-existing mess.
Choose sustainable fabric
Instead of funding big corporations who sell you mass-produced products, you can always support local brands that are ethical and mindful of the waste they generate. Their products aren’t usually cheap (because they DON’T sell you polyester), but they last longer (duh!).