Who has true intentions?
As sustainability becomes increasingly fashionable, brands feel like they can’t fall behind in this latest trend. As expected, big fashion brands want to attract more consumers keen on shopping consciously. But no label can become green overnight; it takes a lot of time and resources. But above all, a fashion brand needs to have true intentions to make sustainable and transparent choices. Rather than truly integrating sustainability into their supply chain, unfortunately, a lot of companies use marketing tactics to paint a greener picture instead.

Genuine VS. Fake
The research has proven that companies do better when they make us feel better about our purchases. Brands who are genuine in their green efforts are more likely to value transparency and share their progress with their customers. In terms of the fashion industry, this means sharing information about supply chains, business practices and the impacts of these practices on workers, communities and the environment. In other words, these brands communicate with true intentions. They want to show that they are not 100% sustainable yet and feel responsible to share their progress and future steps for this very reason.

40% of green claims made could be misleading consumers
Truth be told, everyone likes to believe that their hard-earned money is going towards a better future. Unfortunately, the greenwashing brands use this narrative to convey the same sentiments to us without making a real change. They are not truly transparent, and in a lot of cases they exaggerate their responsible actions and use eco-conscious buzzwords in their marketing campaigns to make consumers feel they are actually responsible, while they are not as responsible as advertised.

“A global sweep by the International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network (ICPEN) of almost 500 websites promoting products and services across a range of sectors, including clothes, cosmetics and food, published in January 2021, found that 40% of green claims made could be misleading consumers.

Research we carried out in 2021 for our report, Synthetics Anonymous, found that 59% of green claims made by fashion brands are misleading or unsubstantiated according to guidelines released by the UK’s competition and markets authority. For some brands, this was as much as 90% or more.” – Greenwash.com.

'Everyone likes to believe that their hard-earned money is going towards a better future. Unfortunately, some brands that greenwash, use this narrative to convey the same sentiments to us without making a real change.'

How to recognize Greenwashing
So how do you recognize whether statements about sustainability are genuine or not? These 3 tips will help you spot false sustainability claims:

  • The company emphasizes a small, sustainable part of what it does, while the core of the company is not sustainable at all.
  • There is no information anywhere about what exactly the company is doing with regard to sustainability, for example, about how much CO2 it emits. There is also no evidence of what the company says it is doing.
  • The company refers to quality standards and certificates as independent proof. Unfortunately, you can’t rely on that because companies often make these certificates themselves. On top of that, many quality standards are not strict enough and there is little oversight on whether companies actually stick to them.

How a brand can be more transparent:

  • Communicating clear sustainability goals.
  • Using factual and updated sustainability claims.
  • Making fair comparisons with others.
  • Being honest about sustainability efforts.

Want to learn more about these tips? Watch Rethinkrebel’s full video to become an expert!

International campaign for radical transparency
We, as a conscious campaign agency, find it essential to constantly observe what developments, topics, tools and initiatives need to be put in the spotlight of a larger audience to accelerate positive change in the fashion industry. That’s why we decided it was the right moment to shed more light on the evolving problem of greenwashing. We want to find out how we can increase transparency in the fashion industry and fight greenwashing. On that note, we are very proud to announce the international documentary project we are working on in collaboration with Shop Like You Give a Damn & the foundation We Need Dreams.

Last year we started this international documentary series project to truly dive into the problem of greenwashing and the possible breakthrough solutions. For this campaign we are talking with journalist Sophie Benson, activist Aja Barber, co-founder of Fashion Revolution & Fashion Open Studio Orsola de Castro, James Omisakin from Compare Ethics and Sascha Camilli, the representative of PETA, amongst others. This project will be a long-term production project, so we will update you about our process once in a while via our newsletter. As our focus of this project is transparency, we want to be fully transparent in our process as well.

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