"Sustainability" has become the go-to subject for marketeers aiming to make brands likeable and in sync with conscious consumers. However, it is also a fertile ground for many brands, namely in the fast fashion segment, to resort to greenwashing and make false claims about their sustainable practices. In the unlikely event you haven't heard the term before, greenwashing is defined as: "the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company's products are more environmentally sound" - source: Investopedia. Through greenwashing, several companies invest more in marketing and advertising just how "green" they are, than actually implementing sustainable practices within the organisation.
With fashion being the second most polluting industry in the world, the ability for brands to manipulate consumer's perception comes as a great advantage, especially since consumers are becoming increasingly informed and demanding in what regards sustainable practices and environmental impact. Recent studies have shown that 73% of millenials would be willing to spend more on products coming from sustainable brands, while searches with sustainable-related keywords have increased 75% in just one year - sources: Nielsen and Lyst.
As such, it seems clear why so many brands are trying to jump on the "sustainability" train, even without any real compromise to change their current practices. This is especially true in the fast fashion segment, renowned for its excessive production, poor quality, excess waste and non-certified production facilities. Using organic cotton, taking in a small percentage of used garments or associating with a random institution doesn't qualify as sustainable, if you keep overproducing in third world countries where workers are deprived of human rights and industrial waste is polluting soils and drastically affecting the health of local communities. Also, opting for paper bags at stores doesn't seem much of a initiative if your garments have to go through 15 countries to be produced, leaving a respectable carbon footprint.
While true sustainability is impossible to achieve while introducing new garments to the market, there are brands that are making real efforts and actually causing positive impacts through their culture and responsible processes. It's up to us to become more informed, do our homework and not fall easily into these highly appealing marketing cliches, especially when it comes to fast fashion labels.