As consumers make steps to become more eco-conscious, brands and companies seek to increase their statuses as environmentally friendly. While some have done this with pure intentions, others have resorted to a practice called greenwashing.
Greenwashing is when a brand or company makes misleading claims to create an image of itself that is more environmentally conscious than the reality. Last July, the British Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced that it was investigating top fast-fashion brands Asos, Boohoo, and George at Asda for this practice.
While these brands have all stated that their environmental claims are true, the CMA is not convinced and is conducting a thorough investigation to hold them accountable. Greenwashing is a particularly insidious practice as it misleads consumers trying to make environmentally conscious decisions.
“People who want to ‘buy green’ should be able to do so confident that they aren’t being misled. Eco-friendly and sustainable products can play a role in tackling climate change, but only if they are genuine,” said Sarah Cardell, interim chief executive at the CMA.
“We’ll be scrutinising green claims from ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda to see if they stack up,” she added. “Should we find these companies are using misleading eco claims, we won’t hesitate to take enforcement action – through the courts if necessary.”
The fashion industry bears responsibility for between 2% to 8% of global carbon pollution and is also a massive source of waste, pollution, and unethical labor practices. These harsh realities are exacerbated in the case of fast fashion.
Fast fashion seeks to produce clothing at an affordable and rapid rate to meet ever-changing trends, but this is made possible through the use of cheap materials and labor. These clothes are also usually intended to be worn for short periods of time, then discarded. Despite the downsides of fast fashion, its low price point and ability to meet quick trends cause it to remain popular.
This is why the CMA’s ability to ensure companies and brands hold true to their promises of more sustainable practices is important. The outcome of this investigation will provide clarity into these brands’ practices and set a precedent for others. In the meantime, you can look to clothing options that are more sustainable, such as your local thrift store or a thrifting web platform like thredUP –– a company that is critical of the practices of fast fashion and actively working to be the solution.
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