4 Sneaky Ways Brands Greenwash

Greenwashing is at an all-time high as brands struggle to keep up with the demands to change their fundamental core values (or lack thereof) to reduce their carbon footprint and implement sustainable practices. For more prominent brands, completely turning their production on its head and reevaluating their whole supply chain to be more eco-friendly will take an immense amount of time – however, that is not stopping many from trying. 

As or others, they are taking shortcuts to pretend they are on the same path mainly to make a profit versus attempting to make real change and thus Greenwashing. If you want to learn how to understand, spot, and acknowledge it, below are five signs of Greenwashing.

Greenwashing refers to practices undertaken by companies, organizations, and even politicians to overstate or mislead people on their ecological or social responsibility.

Conscious Life and Style

Greenwash Lie #1: Tiny Moves = Big Change

For corporations to claim a product/service is “eco-friendly” without providing access to specific data is misleading for consumers – thus Greenwashing.

For example, a hotel asking for guests to reuse towels to help the environment is misleading. In reality, the hotel wants to save on cleaning expenses. Therefore, the hotel pretending their intention doesn’t serve a financial endeavor is a form of greenwashing.

The same concept of “withholding information” applies to the fashion industry. When H&M clothing stated a collection of garments as “sustainably made,” the company ended up misleading their customers to think the whole garment was included. However, only the tag on the clothing was considered sustainable.

Greenwash Lie #2: Straight-Up Lying

Slews of brands feel empowered to straight-up lie about their product or service being ethically and sustainably produced. Many people will take what is advertised on a surface level hoping they have made thoughtful choices. Especially when there are many underprivileged that cannot afford to think about the environment. To twist the knife, these communities are the people that need help the most.

For those that do have the resources and time, when you go to that business’s website and find no evidence that its supply chain has made any effort to curve its ecological footprint or inspect its factories for fair practice, that’s a major red flag for greenwashing.

Some people may retort that some sites may not be up to date with displaying that type of information. I that I say – it is not the 1990s anymore; therefore, it should be the bare minimum for a functional business to 1.) have a standard website and 2.) display proof of claims. Whether it is by pictures or certifications, any business that wants to make eco-friendly declarations must be able to back it up. 

Greenwash Lie #3: Broad Strokes

As mentioned in my terminology post, companies use “green” vernacular to describe the ecological impact, but these terms are merely concepts rather than definitions of positive impact. These terms are broad strokes that need to encompass more specific detail to hold companies accountable for their marketing claims.

Much like the previous greenwash lies, using broad terminology to claim a complete product and service with a low carbon footprint is a Greenwashing lie. 

For example, when a brand advertises a product made with eco-friendly material like bamboo, it doesn’t mean automatically mean the brand ethically-sourced and producd it free of harmful chemicals. Additionally, it doesn’t even mean that the bamboo is of great quality!

Greenwashing Lie #4: Whitelying Certifications

You even have to be careful when a brand declares their products are certified. What if the certificate is as vague as the term “sustainable” or “eco-friendly”? Credentials are a helpful tool for backing brands for transparency; however, they shouldn’t be the sole source of credibility.

Some companies like to “use third-party verification” or make up a certification of their own to sound like they are making impactful initiatives in the fashion industry. They know most people won’t check them – especially if they pick up the product in person. 

But if you are online and want to do your due diligence and ensure your money is invested toward brands that align with your values, it’s essential to dig deeper into these certifications. Doing so helps ensure these certifications are a legitimate and valuable addition to the brand. Accountability for ourselves and the companies is key to making a change in our global carbon footprint and the people that make the products come to life.

You can also use influences, new sites, and reliable website engines like Good on You to help decipher a brand’s credibility for you. I hope this post prompts thought and encourages you to think twice before believing in a company’s surface value.

How to Make Fast Fashion Sustainable by Doing Less

As much as some of us want to invest in sustainable/ethical products and services, not all can afford them. For items that you don’t want to get second-hand (e.g., underwear, shoes, etc.), buying from fast fashion is our only option.

What if I told you that you CAN be sustainable with items made in the mass-produced industry. Living consciously applies even when you step into a Forever 21 or Aldo store. It’s in the upkeep and consistency of intaking new items that create waste. For tips on how to make fast fashion sustainable, keep reading.

Germ Paranoia

Growing up, I believed that my clothes were contaminated as soon as they fell on the floor. Now, I wear certain clothes a multitude of times before it goes into the hamper.

Why? Because we are not that dirty! Unless the garment actually stinks or is visibly dirty, there’s no need to wash it!

By doing so, you will notice a lower energy bill and less laundry! Additionally, you end up preserving your clothes for a longer run.

Be a Healer

I admit mending garments is my least favorite thing to do. It is tempting to toss or donate a piece of clothing every time it gets damaged because I do not want to be bothered trying to fix it. However, I am working on it by forcing myself to mend the article – especially if I love it.

There’s also the option of sending the garment to a professional seamstress or to someone who knows how to work a sewing machine. Either up your skills or work those connections!

Whipping the Magic Wand

When I went to Iceland, I bought a sustainable two-piece swimsuit in white. I wanted it to look fabulous at the Blue Lagoon with my super-fresh, fire-truck red hair. I didn’t know that stepping into the lagoon’s steamy, jacuzzi-like water would make my hair bleed profusely, staining my brand-new white suit! When I arrived home, I tried to get the pink stains out but to no avail and left it sitting in the basement the rest of winter.

Come summer, I decided to tie-dye it in hopes of revamping the suit, and it came out rad! Now I have a two-piece that is unlike any other! Plus, I saved it from the landfill by extending its life. The point is that whether you have to sew, dye, or cut something you own (no matter the brand), refreshing a look rather than buying a new article of clothing altogether is sustainable enough.  

Create an Evergreen Style

Trends is a dirty word as it represents a state of “temporary use” in consumption. To be honest, I never really understood them.

For example, let’s think about fall trends. Who is in charge of saying that cardigans and jean jackets are “cool” and in-demand that season? Since when are these two items not needed when temperatures drop?

The part that makes trends such a bother to the preservation of the environment is that people will discard “out dated” items and then replace them with the same item but with a triendier version of the garment.

Think about the constant production to meet that demand. Imagine the hostile and volatile working conditions and chemicals seeping into the ground all because we wanted a NEW fashion piece to display on our bodies. The practice is such a waste when you sit down and really think about it.

Create a style that is constant regardless of what the dude in the top of a high-rise says it should be. Be you. Be unique. Doing so is not only better for your mental health, but mama planet will thank you for it – plus you will look cool too!

Hopefully, these tips have come in handy for my wallet and inputting conscious living into practice. Much like the Mari Kondo concepts, how we care for our clothing has a lot to say about ourselves.

Leverage 3 Minimalism Questions When Shopping

Minimalism. It is the less is all you need a mantra.

Like water and oil, minimalism is the antecedent to shopping. When the impulsive desire to consume arises, it can be hard to resist the addictive shopping high – though fleeting. If you find yourself constantly wanting to consume the most for less, ask yourself the following questions to redefine your needs. 

Reevaluate Emotions

My go-to when I was bored or needed a pick-me-up was to hit up Forever21 and spend up to $50 just to feel excitement or relief.

Over time, I have leveraged the following questions to keep me from stepping into a fast-fashion store:

  • Why do I want to go shopping? Is it boredom, anxiety, or necessity?
  • If needed, do I have an article of clothing at home that I can wear instead?
  • Can/will I wear this item long-term or will it only last a season?

Analyzing your feelings will separate emotion from rationality. It takes practice but if you snap a rubber band on your wrist every time the impulse kicks in, the reflection will eventually become second nature.

Discern the Timeline

Let’s say that you do need a product. Similar to the previous advice above, look at your timeline. Can you save to buy a sustainable alternative instead, or do you need this item now?

I guarantee that buying better quality products will make you feel much better than buying something that breaks on your way out to dinner. It’s not as fun to wait, but you will find that piece to be more rewarding as it never lets you down.

I have witnessed and been a victim of fast fashion fails. It is no fun to have your necklace snap in the middle of dinner or your heels break off when walking to work from the parking lot. Worst of all, it’s embarrassing when it happens in public! Save yourself the heartache and try to plan ahead so you can save for better-quality products.

Is There a Second-Hand Option? 

Not only do you save money exponentially from buying items second-hand, but you activate a resourceful skill. Whether you are negotiating a new dresser from FB marketplace, grabbing a blouse out of your mom’s closet, or buying a pair of pants off of Poshmark, you are being sustainable by finding ways to reuse and restore already-made garments.

Additionally, instead of putting money into the pockets of exploitative companies like FashionNova, you are activating the rational part of your brain that helps you reel in impulsivity.

And yes, I do wear some fast fashion pieces still; however, it is 90% preowned. However, one of my deal breakers is buying footwear second-hand because I find that they are on their last leg when I find them at a thrift store.

To sustain mental health, finding balance in what we invest/support can be a positive habit. For example, I have bought $120 sustainable and ethical shoes, thrifted a pair of high-brand boots for $7, and purchased two new pairs of sandals from Aldo for $200. The point is that it’s all about doing our best with what we have – no shaming for lacking resources!

I hope this post helped you understand how to discern desire from necessity. This skill is vital to financial wealth and reducing environmental/social impact so if you have any more advice or tips, please share below!