Photo by iStock from Unsplash

by Ewan Pearson

Unless you have been living under a rock in recent times then you most definitely know about the major issues the fashion world is having on our planet. The production of clothing throughout the world makes up 10% of carbon emissions, a single pair of jeans uses up to 7,500 litres of water to produce and arguably the worst of all is that 85% of textiles within the world are sent to landfill dumps. Now believe it or not, but these issues which have been pointed out are just some of the key issues barely scraping the surface of the problem. However thanks to tools such as social media we all should be aware of the sustainability problems within this industry. Now more than ever we have the ability to voice these issues to the companies causing these problems. On the surface they have seen to be making changes to their unsustainable fashion practices to help combat these issues, but this is not necessarily true.

Greenwashing is where companies make claims that they are making changes to become more sustainable but the statistics they are providing are in fact misleading and, in some cases, complete fabrications of the truth.

A group dedicated to truly making change are the Changing Markets Foundation. The Changing Markets Foundation have found through research that brands such as ASOS and Zara were misleading customers by still making use of synthetic plastics whilst claiming the materials they are using are recycled. Technically speaking the materials being used were recycled but because they originated with synthetic plastics the damage has already been done.

Another way companies deceive us as customer is by creating specific fashion lines which are supposedly sustainable but in in reality are far from it. An example of this would be H&M who created their Conscious Collection which claimed all products contained at least 50% more sustainable materials. However it was found by Changing Markets Foundation that the products which were part of this collection actually contained more synthetic plastics than their mainline collections. Whereas some companies try to deceive us as consumers by carefully constructing the information we receive like ASOS and Zara some will just straight up lie to because they do not believe that we will try to fact check them.

There are still other ways in which these companies lead you to believe that they are becoming more sustainable when in reality they are not. This is done through sneaky tactics such as claiming they are reducing carbon emissions in their head office by implementing things such as solar panels but in reality this will have little to no effect on their overall carbon emissions because the issues are coming from their production factories and not their head office. One of the main distraction tactics used by these companies is simply distracting legislators who are attempting to make change. A key example of this would be fast fashion retailer Primark, who highlighted to the UK’s Environmental Audit Committee their membership to the TMC. These types of distractions look good on paper to governing bodies and Primark’s customer base but the reality of this is that Primark have not produced any real evidence of their supposed sustainability practices to since 2018.

The moral of this story is to not take what these companies say at face value because it may seem like they care about sustainability and our planet their ultimate goal of making profit will always come first. We as consumers can do more by second -hand shopping.