By Lauren Sarah Purcell
The above words all thrown around more so than ever before and not only in the beauty and fashion industry and as I see these words used more often in conversations and advertising it points to the following question; how can an individual be sure that the products they are buying are indeed sustainable, produced and made under ethical practices, and let’s not forget that tee-shirt you are wearing…is it really organic?
Let’s talk about the fashion industry. I have at times found myself in depths of confusion over how particular chain stores could preach “ethics” and “sustainability”. When a company is charging $5.00 for a tee-shirt doesn’t it make you think what on earth are you (the business I am buying from) paying the man or woman (or in very more often than not real cases a young boy or girl) to make that?
Let us be real here. Unless thrifted from your local op shop there is no way a $5.00 tee-shirt is sustainable or ethical. It isn’t even going to last five washes to hold its “sustainability” title.
This brings me to the very important topic of “greenwashing” – and no this has absolutely nothing to do with washing your clothing in an eco friendly manner (however that is another topic in its entirety so stay tuned). Greenwashing is in fact the term used when a companies and brands falsely lead us as consumers to believe that their products or policies are ethical and environmentally friendly. In a nutshell it’s a marketing ploy.
I used to be a marketer’s dream. Easy to sway, easy to persuade and in the words of Broods “I’m just a sucker for everything” pretty much summed up how easily swayed I was.
Now get me wrong - marketing is absolutely great if done in the right way (Patagonia has hit the nail on the head with this one as has the local Australian Brand Arnhem clothing) but it is also imperative that as individuals we step up and ask brands if their products or wares are in fact all that “green”. In 2018 Forbes listed an article on why “sustainable branding matters” and on Google alone there are pages upon pages of articles on “how to market your brand as sustainable or ethical”.
So how are we being greenwashed you might ask?
It is often where labels are stipulating and at often times very heavily so, that their products are sustainable, their cotton organic, and their fibres natural without having any evidence to back up those claims. It is where you see brands that are producing as many pieces as the big fast fashion chains that makes you sit back and go – “wait this doesn’t add up”.
So what can you do?
The best thing we can do as a community and as individuals is to educate ourselves and to educate others. Greenwashing is something we should all be aware of and let us be honest here – no one likes being lied to right?
The next time you are looking to purchase a piece marketing itself as sustainable and ethical I want you to look at these key points:
1. Language – is the company using language that is hard to understand or mulls over their goals and policies? Often people use terms that are “heavy” to appear as better than they are.
2. Advertising – is the company diverting from the bigger picture. Are the graphics used ambiguous in the sense that the shoots are all done in the wild outback making one presume outdoors = sustainable?
Speaking of money it is so important to remember that what how we spend ours is essentially an exchange of energy…it is you and I – the consumers that have all the power and as such should we not make that power matter? Every time you are spending money, you are in turn sending energy into the universe for the type of world you want to live in (and you can call it hocus pocus) but I just call it truth.
Wouldn’t it be better if all brands stood for the truth? Until then it is our duty as a community and as individuals to find that out. When something doesn’t feel right about the latest piece you are coveting, send that company’s PR department an email – demand the truth because our clothing it goes beyond us. It goes back to those that made the garment and it goes back to the earth where the materials are sourced from.
For ethical and sustainable brands you know you can trust you need look no further than Gypsy Trader.
Stay tuned for more posts beautiful souls.
Love and light.
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Lauren Sarah Purcell is a sustainable stylist and tailor based in NYC and Madison, Wisconsin. Lauren loves helping her clients discover their best style using a lean wardrobe. Find her on Instagram, her blog, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest.