Is eco-friendly fashion just a marketing hook?
According to Wikipedia the term ‘greenwashing’ refers to a form of propaganda in which green marketing is deceptively used. They use it to promote awareness that the organization’s aim and policies are environmentally friendly. Companies use it to reach out and manipulate their consumers into believing they are making a positive change to help the environment and to also increase their profit.
Many people have been trying to join the “green trend” since the early 2000’s. Companies have now gotten wind of the growing trend and are now trying to also. Companies have been realizing that a lot of their consumers want eco-friendly product, so they have been slowly changing their ways. They are now finding different ways they are able to make and manufacture their clothing that is more environmentally friendly for the earth and consumer. The only problem with this is companies realizing these certain changes would benefit their profit and consumer base, some are now manipulating their customers by ‘greenwashing’.
There is an instance of when Levi’s started to advise their customers on their care tags to “wash in cold water…line-dry your jeans” and when finished with the jeans “donate to Goodwill.” They also started promoting customers to wash their jeans once every two weeks rather than every week to cut back on how much water you’re using. While these are all good ways to educate the customers on how to cut back on use of energy and water, it doesn’t show what Levi’s are doing themselves, to show they are helping the environment. After Levi’s received backlash of greenwashing, they ended up taking the next step in 2010, according to their website, and announced their new “Water
When it comes to jeans being made, large quantities of water and pesticides are used to grow cotton, which is what jeans are made from. In the finishing phase, water and energy are used in the dying process in which chemicals are used to soften the fabric or make them look distressed. According to The Green Blue Book, it takes 2,866 gallons of water to produce, dye, and finish a pair of jeans, about twice as much water as would be used to wash them once a month for five years with assuming they last that long. The textile industry happens to be a very large source for chemicals that are called oxygen demand. They are extremely deadly and can end up polluting waterways in countries with textile factories. In countries such as the US and Canada, there are wastewater treatment plants that help remove the chemicals from the water before they are able to reach waterways. Unfortunately in countries that are still developing, there are too many chemicals for the plants to be able to remove them all because of the lax economical regulations and some have no removal plants at all.
What tends to happen with a lot of companies is that they will claim that they are eco-friendly and going ‘green’ but consumers have a hard time in believing them. For example according to Ripping The Seams website, The Gap claims that they do regular inspections and check up’s at the factories producing Gap products. Although the Gap has improved and does a great job at making sure their workers environments are safe workplaces and treated fairly, the consumers know that inspecting all of their factories is unrealistic. In this case, some consumers feel mislead and wonder if all claims on eco-friendliness of the company are true. Another situation that happened was according to many news reports, in 2009 H&M was found destroying wearable clothing after they no longer were selling the clothing. They quickly put that to an end and created affordable sustainability with their “Conscious Collection” which is the number 1 user of organic cotton worldwide.
What a lot of people fail to see is that buying eco-friendly clothing isn’t as expensive as most think. The key is not buying clothing, which in turn is the best way to be eco-friendly. Recycling fashion and going vintage, looking through thrift shops is the “greenest” way to go. Cotton is a very durable textile so items that are cotton based, are able to last for years. With many fashion companies changing their clothing production to more eco-friendly ways it is getting the message out to consumers that it does make a difference, even with small changes such as the material of their bags. Many of these stores are both fashionable and affordable to consumers who rather purchase first hand clothing, but there are also many luxurious brands that you see celebrities wearing as well. There are some luxury brands such as Organic by John Patrick, Stella McCartney, Edun, and Barneys Green label that prove it’s not just a trend, many people, designers and companies are incorporating eco-friendliness into their products.
Barney’s fashion director, Julie Gilhart, said it best; “It’s not a trend…a trend is something that dies. It’s a movement.”