What Is Greenwashing?

img_20181021_1808001-e1540148275817.jpgRecently I picked up a leaflet in H&M about their ‘H&M Conscious’ initiative. Essentially, it seems that they are aiming to create a circular economy within their brand; this is done by customers taking in their unwanted clothes, regardless of brand or condition, and putting them into a bin, the outcome being a £5 voucher for each bag brought in.

This concept sounds amazing! A major high street brand which causes quite a bit of destruction to the planet is wanting to backtrack on it’s mistakes whilst also educating and encouraging their img_20181020_1713471customers. The leaflet states that ‘Zero waste is the goal.’, by not just turning recycled clothes into new clothes but also using textiles (that are too worn) to generate energy. As well as that H&M writes that there are no profits from this scheme with €0.02 per kilogram getting donated to a local charity. We can even see which items have been crafted from sustainable items, which are indicated by a green price tag.

clone tag: -3157356089908808122Yet H&M are notorious within the fast fashion world for all the opposite reasons: selling clothes that were produced by underpaid workers on the supply chain, using methods to create their clothes that are harmful to the planet, and overall creating a consumer culture. H&M achieves a mere 7.5/20 from the magazine Ethical Consumer, most likely due to the fact that less than 1% of H&M’s products are made from this recycled material. Also, H&M are still using processes that are harmful to the environment, such as dying them with chemicals.

This contradiction is known as ‘greenwashing’: a marketing technique used to promote the deception that an organisation is sustainable. This manipulates customers into believing they are buying something ethically good, encouraging them to shop there again- when in reality it is a business model used in order to make more money rather than help the environment or struggling workers on the supply chain. Even on the leaflet it is made clear that the £5 reward voucher is only redeemable when spending £25 in the store, which inevitably contributes to the fast fashion imagine they are trying to move themselves away from.

So I would encourage you to research the clothes you buy first-hand- even if they appear as being sustainable, explore this claim further and see if it is genuine or just greenwashing.


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