Greenwashing ‘Symptom of a Bigger Disease’: Greenpeace Jasmin Malik Chua

Benetton Green Bee. C&A Wear the Change. Decathlon Ecodesign. G-Star Responsible Materials. H&M Conscious Choice. Mango Committed. Primark Cares. Tesco F&F Made Mindfully. Zara Join Life.

For Greenpeace, the fact that many of these so-called eco-labels are disappearing faster than you can say “European Union green claims directive” could not be more welcome.

Such “false claims” of environmental responsibility, as the nonprofit put it in a recent report, are merely distractions from a lack of meaningful action. And without solid evidence to back up these assertions, fashion’s biggest names are “guilty of greenwashing.”

In fact when Greenpeace investigated a dozen of these “self-assessed marketing labels,” it found that most did not meet the criteria for credibility. “Circularity,” it noted, is a “myth,” with take-back programs mainly passing the waste problem onto the global South and any use of recycled content heavily relying on plastic inputs from other sectors, such as PET bottles, rather than textile-to-textile reclamation. Green marketing, the report said, is mostly that—marketing. At best, the result is more perplexing than helpful. At worst, it’s greenwashing.

Greenpeace identified some common areas of concern, of which the “misleading narrative” about circularity is only one. Many of these schemes, it said, lack supply chain traceability and instead lean on controversial impact-measuring tools. Any initiatives they might highlight can be on the smaller side, lacking context in terms of the “larger volumes of business as usual.” A number of brands also present the production of fiber blends such as polycotton as “greener” because they include recycled content, despite the fact that mixed fibers are challenging to recycle at scale.

Plus, tags that feature in-house eco-labels, the report noted, can make them seem like they’re a form of certification, which can be confusing to customers, particularly when coupled with a dearth of third-party verified compliance with the top standards for environmental and social performance.

Such labels are likely on their way out if draft legislation to stop misleading claims is any indication. Last week, the European Parliament backed, by a wide margin, a move to allow only sustainability labels based …


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