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Unraveling the Secrets Behind Greenwashing

Ana Lengemann

Mar 22, 2024

Unraveling the Secrets Behind Greenwashing

Hyperconsumerism has infected societal norms through social media. This shift in consumption happened so quickly and smoothly that nobody noticed until it was too late. Influencer marketing has contributed majorly to the domination of unethical brands as they pump out fashion trends cyclically. Social media is pushing fast fashion so much so that people can barely fathom life without the newest endorsement from instagram models. Whether it’s the latest strappy going out top from White Fox Boutique or an absolutely stunning pair of Princess Polly boots, influencer endorsement is practically law. Micro-trends and vicious trend cycles have a disastrous effect on the environment, but the destruction has been overlooked thanks to influencers perpetuating the rise of hyperconsumerism.
As of May of 2022, fast fashion brand Shein was named one of the largest fashion retailers in the fashion world. This announcement was a terrifying one for many reasons. First, fast fashion has detrimental effects on the environment. 100 billion clothing items are made up annually, with millions of items ending up in landfills. With heightened concern surrounding fast fashion, companies have recently subscribed to the concept of greenwashing in efforts to mitigate the appearance of the fashion world polluting the environment.
Greenwashing is the practice of making false claims about the environmental friendliness of a company or item. In the fashion world rumors have circulated regarding the practice of greenwashing and more and more businesses have been caught marketing items as “100% recyclable,” with even Shein taking part in claiming their business as “ sustainable”. The proliferation of terms like “eco” in marketing makes it harder for consumers to find smaller, more well-intentioned genuine brands as big players buy up Google search results.
This year, rumors of greenwashing from a leading fast fashion brand circulated the industry. Critics in Forbes covered the inside scoop, confirming Zara is a perpetrator of greenwashing. The brand is facing backlash for falsely claiming their pieces were sustainable. Noted for their chic silhouettes and trendy options, the brand was caught using cherry-picked claims, swearing their items are eco-friendly. Their recent campaign claimed to encourage users to resell their unwanted items, and also offered in-house repair services. The Forbes article covers how critics have been skeptical, as the media is no stranger to brands trying to boost their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) but lacking a genuine interest in suitability. The expose on Zara speaks to the larger issue at hand, with many concerned with the impact of microtrends and hyperconsumerism in the future, and the implications of greenwashing as we yearn for more sustainable practices. The smoke and mirrors of the fashion industry are far from clear and far from clean.

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