The fashion industry knows it has an environmental problem – but the way some companies deal with their contribution to global warming shows that real change is yet to happen.
An April 2022 survey by the Ashkin Group found that nearly 80% of American consumers consider the environmental impact of a product before purchasing it. 70% of those surveyed said they would change their buying habits if they found out that a brand was not working sustainably.
“This last point is crucial,” wrote Stephen Ashkin, president of the Ashkin Group, alongside the survey’s findings. We have thousands of companies producing green products. But are the companies that manufacture these products operating in a green and sustainable manner? This is what consumers now want to know.
It makes sense that brands are beginning to adapt to the ever-increasing demand for sustainability, but consumers still need to be cautious. “Sustainability,” “green,” and “clean” are buzzwords that are starting to float around the market, but how the consumer interprets the words can sometimes differ from what the company means by the words.
The law of fashion Unlike “organic” in the food industry, which comes with a certification process overseen by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are no government guidelines on how a brand can call itself “sustainable,” he noted.
According to Ashkin Group research, most consumers consider “sustainability” to mean “reducing waste, recycling, using environmentally friendly materials, cutting (greenhouse) gas emissions, and engaging in ethical labor practices.” That’s what you want when you buy.
Instead of actually changing practices to align with what consumers want, some companies are engaging in “greenwashing.” Greenwashing is when a brand misleads consumers into believing that a company’s practices and products are more sustainable than they actually are.
That’s why Chelsea Commodore filed a complaint against fast fashion giant H&M in New York on July 22. In the complaint, Commodore accused H&M of greenwashing “misleading” environmental scorecards associated with clothing in the brand’s Consciousness collection.
Commodore said that “many” of H&M’s products are marketed as sustainable, “which is less sustainable than the products themselves.” [its] Main collection, they are not permanent.
When The Know contacted H&M for comment on the allegations, its media relations team responded: “We are taking the allegations very seriously and will investigate them thoroughly. We kindly ask you to understand that we have no further comment on this point.
Commodore mentions the investigation conducted by Quartz You’ll find H&M’s environmental scorecards to be “absolutely deceiving” at times. Quartz After the company learned of the investigation, H&M pointed out that it did not have scorecards listed on its site.
“In the most critical cases, H&M has shown false information.” Quartz He reported. “Of the 600 womenswear scorecards on the H&M UK site last week, more than 100 errors made unsustainable clothes look the opposite.”
H&M uses a rating system for its clothes called the Higgs Index, which is adopted by other brands and has been criticized by environmental groups as deliberately misleading consumers. The Higg index is defined Vogue A fashion-forward “industry-leading sustainability assessment tool” is reportedly being banned in Norway following a spate of complaints about greenwashing.
The Fashion Sustainability and Social Responsibility Act introduced by the New York State Assembly in October 2021 was hailed as a historic achievement in the fight for sustainable fashion at the time. The action is based on Higg index.
According to H&M on its website, this is why the brand considers itself sustainable – It is the first global fashion retailer to launch a clothing collection program, launched in 2013. The program is said to take unwanted clothes and sell them as secondhand clothes or process them into other products. H&M describes the program as “closing the loop.”
“In 2020, we collected 18,800 tons of unwanted clothing and textiles through our clothing collection program,” says H&M. “That’s the equivalent of 94 million T-shirts.”
Recycled clothes still end up in landfills. Despite the huge success of H&M’s clothing collection program, overproduction continues to be a major issue in the fashion industry. In the year In 2019, H&M produced 3 billion garments – including $4.1 billion worth of unsold garments.
“When it comes to fast fashion, reselling into product offerings is just lip service if it’s not coupled with a meaningful commitment to change,” Erin Wallace, vice president of integrated marketing at resale site thredUP, told Good on You.
Good on You, which researches and rates companies on how sustainable they are, wrote in an Instagram post that the best way to tell if a brand is greenwashing is if it’s fast fashion.
“No fast fashion business model can be sustainable,” the post says. “Their greenwashing is just a distraction. [the] Together, these brands produce billions of discarded plastic garments.
The post Fast fashion giant H&M accused of ‘greenwashing’ in new lawsuit
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