Greenwashing is becoming a serious problem for the fashion industry, the consumer and genuine brands that are truly working hard for change. We’ve compiled a series of four episodes on our Instagram diving into what greenwashing is, what the dangers are and how to tackle and avoid it. There is a lot to learn so if you haven’t yet, make sure you watch the full episodes that are saved on our page.

The first expert we had the pleasure of talking to was George Harding-Rolls from
He works as a campaign manager at the Changing Markets Foundation, a Dutch non-profit formed to accelerate solutions to sustainability challenges by leveraging the power of markets. Much of the foundation’s work involves exposing irresponsible corporate behaviour, and George has worked across the fashion, fisheries, food and plastics sectors pushing for corporate accountability. He leads the organisation’s ‘Fossil Fashion’ campaign, exposing the industry’s environmentally disastrous reliance on fossil fuels during the climate crisis as well as the organisation’s latest project, is an interactive website that was created with the aim to help people recognise, spot and identify greenwashing in practice, on brands’ websites, in adverts and physical stores. The website was created to Showcase the breadth and variety of tactics that the fashion industry is using to greenwash consumers. George explains that people are confused and constantly misguided as brands easily capitalise on their concerns, pushing the narrative that the solution is to buy the ‘sustainable’ option. 

Greenwashing hinders change according to George as brands have no incentive to create long lasting systemic change, instead they use vague statements and flashy slogans as smokescreens blinding us from the reality of climate change. Greenwashing is an unfair business practice that needs to be recognised and questioned, George believes nothing a brand says is good enough unless it’s heavily substantiated with credible evidence and plenty of detail. Sustainable claims have to be robust and truthful, he adds.

Our conversation with George ends with a few tips he shares to help us recognise greenwashing. The first thing he advises is questioning every green claim. Making sure there’s a satisfactory explanation for every claim and trustworthy certifications. Paying attention to the material use and making sure that brands’ narratives are genuine, authentic and transparent. Finally, he gives a few words of advice for brands who want to steer clear of greenwashing, he recommends avoiding meaningless words like conscious, green, sustainable and instead being as specific as possible, providing extensive information to consumers.
Rewatch the conversation here

The second person we interviewed is Sophie Benson.
Sophie is a freelance journalist working with a focus on sustainable fashion, the environment, workers’ rights, and consumerism. She’s the sustainability columnist for Dazed, and writes for publications including The Independent, The Guardian, AnOther, and i-D. Sophie talked about how she started initially working in fashion as a stylist and as she began educating herself she quickly realised how destructive the industry was. As no one around her was talking about this, she decided to start a blog to share her findings and hoping to reach people, educating them. Her work now is centred around attempts to break down the language and tactics that brands use to greenwash consumers. She also tries to deconstruct and decouple the narrative, commonly used by brands, that sees consumption and sustainability as one, complementary phenomena. 

Sophie aims to give people the tool to navigate the sustainable fashion landscape and tries to debunking some misleading claims that brands make, exposing their often inaccurate and unsubstantiated claims. She mentions H&M as one of the most significant examples of a company whose greenwashing tactics have had a pervasive impact. H&M is in fact often found topping sustainable fashion lists and rankings, convincing people that they’re truly sustainable when in reality the sheer amount of garments they produce is in stark contrast to the very notion of sustainability. Sophie highlights how greenwashing can easily be debunked as she mentions a few brands that, as a consequence of increasing regulations, have backtracked on their sustainability efforts, removing their conscious collection. 

The next topic we cover in our conversation with Sophie is the recent collaboration between Boohoo and Kourtney Kardashian. At first it might seem like a positive action, but at the root it’s all about encouraging consumption. Kourtney has in fact developed a collection with Boohoo that has no consideration for end of life and contains mostly trend-led pieces made with rather unsustainable materials. This collaboration seems to be no more than a marketing ploy in an attempt to change people’s scepticism around their environmental and social ethics. This collaboration according to Sophie was a wasted opportunity to truly educate, share important knowledge around sustainability and spotlighting changemakers, instead it just proved to be another opportunity to push out more products. 

Our conversation with Sophie comes to an end with her invaluable take on how brands can be part of the change and build a genuine narrative. She invites brands to be honest, hold themselves accountable and prioritise action on sustainability, with willingness to constantly change, improve and evolve. She suggests being realistic about their progress to restore trust in consumers and improving their reputation.
Rewatch the conversation here


The third speaker in our live series is Alex Albini, the co-founder of Sustainable Brand Platform.
This is a platform that helps fashion companies to measure, improve and communicate their sustainability performances. 

Sustainable Brand Platform is building a cloud based software designed for fashion companies to track, control and optimise their sustainability performances. Alex explained that to be transparent, brands need to measure their impacts and that can be done by collecting data, especially primary data, this can then be used to communicate sustainability to buyers and final consumers. Most brands’ impacts can be traced back to their supply chain, which means that once brands gather data from their suppliers, sustainable decision making is facilitated as they can choose the right manufacturer and the right materials, facilitating real, measurable improvements. 

Through different services, Sustainable Brand Platform works at both product level and company level with the aim to equip brands with the best tools to track and reduce their impacts. To measure brands’ performances Sustainable Brand Platform uses tools like Carbon Footprint Calculator, Product Life Cycle Analysis and they support brands with Supply Chain Management through a Supply Chain mapping tool which is a digital repository of suppliers’ sustainability documentation that allows access to their ESG performances. To further support brands in reducing their impact, they also offer hotspot analysis, help with goal setting and an AI driven sustainable design tool. To allow all of this information to be communicated clearly to consumers, Sustainable Brand Platform offers immersive, phygital assets. Sustainable Brand Platform also helps brands automise their sustainability reporting, in compliance with the Global Reporting Index (GRI), as shareholders are increasingly paying attention to brands’ impacts. 

Alex believes that brands should see sustainability as an investment rather than a cost because going forward with new regulation coming, all brands will have to prove that they are serious about their sustainability commitments. With no common and widespread methodology for calculating fashion product sustainability and lack of credible, science based data, it’s common for fashion companies to be guilty of greenwashing. Sustainable Brand Platform aims to change that, giving companies the tools to improve their performances and reduce their impacts throughout the whole supply chain. Rewatch the conversation here 


Last, but not least, the pioneer featured in our greenwashing series is Cecilia Parker Aranha, the director of consumer protection at the UK Consumer Market Authority.
Cecilia’s job is to run investigations and projects to make sure that businesses in the UK are complying with consumer protection laws.

The CMA noticed that greenwashing was prevalent across most sectors in the economy so they published the green claims code as a guidance to support Companies in complying with the law. Cecilia is now focusing on the fashion industry as it’s a sector responsible for major impacts that hadn’t been properly monitored before. Cecilia believes brands have to be careful about what they say and the claims they make, they need proof and good evidence, alongside supply chain transparency. 

The CMA is using formal enforcement powers and have recently launched an investigation on 3 UK brands that have collections that they promote as being better for the environment. They are aiming to gather information to understand if the claims those brands are making are substantiated and whether consumers are understanding what they’re being told by these brands to assess if they are breaking consumer law. If that’s the case they attempt to secure an agreement from them to improve their business practices and provide consumers with proper information. If that doesn’t happen, the court gets involved. 

Cecilia explains that they are working to make improvements across the whole fashion sector but focusing on a few companies allows them to set a precedent to drive wider change. The main issues they’ve encountered so far is the lack of evidence to back up green claims and the prevalence of vague slogans that are easily misunderstood by consumers. Cecilia thinks greenwashing will be over once consumers won’t have to choose between environmentally destructive products and less impactful ones and instead sustainability will be guaranteed in all consumer products.

The conversation with Cecilia ends with her recommendations for brands to avoid greenwashing. She thinks it’s important to make sure that terms such as carbon neutral, biodegradable, circular, often used to describe a product’s sustainability feature are explained in a simple, comprehensive way. They are also working with the international consumer protection enforcement network, and collaborating with consumer protection authorities from all around the world to try to raise the standard of communication on environmental information globally.
Rewatch our conversation here


Greenwashing can be daunting, but we hope these conversations with experts have made some clarity and served as a guide to spot greenwashing when you come across it and make better-informed purchasing decisions! If you’re a fashion brand, startup or organisation that’s still struggling with communicating sustainability in an honest and authentic way, reaching your audience and spreading your message, we have the solution for you!  On the 25th of November we’re hosting a Black Friday webinar, all about campaigning in a genuine and successful way. In this webinar, you will learn how to attract and engage your audience and put your brand in the spotlight as it deserves.

For more info and sign up click here!