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No Fashion On A Dead Planet: Why Greenwashing Is So Problematic

As an environmentally conscious individual, I am constantly looking to support sustainable companies that utilize their profits for the greater good of our suffering environment. However, there is a dangerous and fraudulent marketing ploy that has been sweeping the nation for decades. Here’s all you need to know about greenwashing and why it proves hazardous to our environment:

Pexels/Alena Koval

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is a relatively modern marketing tactic that falsely advertises certain companies as ‘environmentally friendly’ when in reality, the company spends more time and money on “clean” marketing than actually diminishing their own environmental impact. This rather deceitful retail gimmick tricks environmentally conscious consumers into thinking their purchase is making an impact, while in reality, it’s quite the opposite. Greenwashed companies care more about their profits and less about the environmental repercussions of their corporation.

person planting a green plant
Photo by Rommel Diaz from Pixabay

Examples of Greenwashing

Brands like H&M, a notoriously well-known fast fashion brand, are beginning to adopt greenwashing tactics through their new “Conscious Collection”: a line of H&M clothing dedicated to utilizing sustainably sourced and recycled materials. While this may seem like a positive shift in the right direction, H&M still uses fast-fashion and cheap labor to create these clothes, which is considered entirely unsustainable. Companies like H&M use greenwash-marketing as a mask to hide behind the fact that they are drastically damaging the environment; they want to distance themselves from their poor reputation without ever making a sustainable or holistic, company-wide change.

there is no planet b
Photo by Li-An Lim from Unsplash

How to Recognize and Avoid Greenwashing

While I am not proud of it, I have definitely purchased clothes or products (unknowingly, might I add) solely based on the fact that they were marketed as holistic and sustainable merely because I placed trust in the company. Don’t become a victim of greenwashing! It is easy to fall into the trap of greenwash-marketing but it can easily be avoided. Greenwash-marketing brands often utilize buzzwords like, “sustainable” or “all-natural”, as a way to attract customers. Rather than confiding in these words and phrases, look at the figures and statistics behind these claims. Take notice of what percentage of their products are made with recycled materials or how and where the materials are sourced. There are often many trade-offs when it comes to these seemingly holistic brands, so be wary!

Sustainable, vegan, eco-friendly– just a few buzzwords companies like H&M use to target their audience of metal-straw-using, save-the-turtles-loving individuals. Invest in truly environmentally conscious companies by doing your research! It is most definitely cool to live sustainably but remember, sustainability is not a trend. Educate yourself on the infinite benefits of holistic living.

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Hannah Garand

U Mass Amherst '23

Hannah is currently an Honors Biology student who writes for the UMass Amherst chapter. Aside from her love of Cellular Biology, Hannah enjoys playing with her Covid-cats, tending to her copious amounts of plant children, and hiking various trails up North. Follow her Instagram to see pictures of her cats, her dog, and her lizard! @hanngarand
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