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Erik Petrov1


29 September 2022

5 Fast Fashion Brands Called Out for Greenwashing

With fast fashion taking the fashion industry by storm in the last couple of years, various clothing companies have emerged that produce high quantities of clothes for low prices. The consequences of such high production and consumption are affecting the planet. Not only are there widespread criticisms of fast fashion leading to workers' rights violations and the clothing being made with toxic and harmful materials, but the effects of fast fashion on the Earth, the climate, and natural resources are tenfold. 



Many people have started to boycott fast fashion brands that create toxic waste and cause harm to the environment. In a bid to stop people from boycotting their clothes, some brands have turned to greenwashing. Read ahead to find out what greenwashing is and learn about 5 fast fashion brands that have been called out for greenwashing.


What Is Greenwashing?


Greenwashing is a term coined by Environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986. You’ve probably already heard of whitewashing. Similarly, greenwashing refers to when companies mislead their customers by marketing their brand as environmentally conscious without making any actual efforts to be more sustainable. As a result of greenwashing, many consumers believe that they are buying products that were made using sustainable practices. However, that is not really the case. 


5 Fast Fashion Brands Guilty of Greenwashing


Let’s take a look at 5 fast fashion giants that have been called out for greenwashing. These brands are all relatively well-known and function in various countries around the world. They also do a lot of harm to the environment, and their clothing production has led to a lot of harmful waste products. 


1- H&M


H&M is a clothing giant and produces millions of clothing and accessory items every year. It is also responsible for incredible amounts of textile waste, using toxic chemicals in its production processes, and treating its workers inhumanely. Many of H&M’s recent sustainable campaigns have been accused of greenwashing. The claims the company made about sustainability were vague and lacked transparency. 


2- Zara


Zara is another clothing giant that claims to produce over 450 million garments every day. This massive scale of production can hardly be sustainable. Recently, Zara has stated that it aims to switch to 100% renewable energy for its production by the year 2030. The company is also aiming to reduce its emissions by 2040. However, this seems like greenwashing as the company has yet to slow down its production or reduce its carbon footprint. 


3- Uniqlo 


Uniqlo, the Japanese fast fashion giant, has over 3000 stores and has been accused of human rights violations. By using low-quality materials for their clothes, the company has earned itself a pretty bad reputation. Recently, Uniqlo has claimed to use recycled materials and take steps to restore certain coastal areas. However, there has been no transparency on how the company plans to achieve this. No progress has been reported so far.


4- Nike 


We’re sure you’re no stranger to the company Nike. However, did you know that the entire company was built upon the model of finding the lowest possible cost of labor in order to produce their shoes and apparel? Nowadays, the company is considered a champion of sustainability, but how far can we believe that to be true? And how much of it is greenwashing? According to Nike’s chief sustainability officer, some of the targets the company has set, such as creating zero carbon and zero waste, are completely unachievable. 


5- Allbirds


Allbirds, the New Zealand-American company, is known for its sustainable shoes. The company made its name for its wool sneakers which are advertised as being eco-friendly. However, there are claims that most of the company's advertising is greenwashing and that the company downplays the environmental impact of the production of their wool sneakers. 


If you're not sure whether a company you buy clothes from is actually taking steps to produce their clothing while simultaneously being sustainable or whether they are simply greenwashing, it might be wise to do some extended research. In the meantime, don't underestimate the power of thrift shopping as a way to fight against the overproduction and overconsumption of clothes by fast fashion brands. 

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