“Climate change”, “plastic straws”, “zero waste” and “sustainability” are hot words that have flooded modern media with great urgency. In light of society’s wildly polarized views, the world is regarded with such sensitivity and the desire to be politically correct has led to infusing every marketing campaign with the image of “going green.”
Why would that be a bad thing? Everyone wants to save the turtles and fix the hole in the ozone and eliminate fast fashion, right? I would hope so, however, a new buzz word has hit the streets, “Greenwashing.”
“Greenwashing,” is defined as the false advertisement of a company’s environmental impact. Taking advantage of trends and using them to the benefit of a company is not news however, re-branding and lying in advertisements is a foolish way to keep a company alive.
Titling a campaign with a buzz word, that falls under the umbrella of sustainability, without evidently making changes toward more “green” movements, is harmful to the future of shoppers and sellers alike. For example, popular clothing store H&M has made the news time and time again for being a major contributor to the fast fashion world.
Sub-par factory working conditions and low quality clothing made quickly to make the market in time for trends, being why it is called “fast” fashion, are just the start of the many problems H&M has faced. They have recently released their “Conscious Collection” implying that the pieces in this collection are environmentally conscious. Flagged with a green tag, there has yet to be any evidence that the promise of this name is true, and the price points do not exemplify the quality that would come with sustainable clothing.
Misleading advertising goes beyond clothes and even beyond lies. The most recent trend in the world of activism has been the ban of plastic straws in an effort to save sea turtles from being harmed.
Companies implementing this ban are without a doubt doing a positive thing for the environment however, they cannot claim to be environmentally sound. To blame the harm of animals solely on one item is not a fair claim, nor enough to satisfy a society hungry for change.
Plastic is the problem and serving a plastic cup with a paper straw is no better than serving a paper cup with a plastic straw. The same material in a different disguise is still a danger and to disgrace others for their use of straws without inwardly looking at your use of plastic is simply unfair.
“Greenwashing” feeds off the trust of people who want to do better for the world and are unknowingly put in the exact same place as people shopping without considering their carbon footprint. Today’s society is growing more and more aware of the unjust ways of big businesses and are no longer afraid to put them in their place.
With the rise of cancel culture, it might be worthwhile for businesses that are “greenwashing” to go through the re-branding of actually becoming more environmentally friendly to protect the longevity of their industry. This tactic feels necessary to companies struggling to stay afloat because they watch big corporations go under for not keeping up with the changing ways of the world.
Though many fashionistas were devastated, The Shops at Mission Viejo, Forever 21 closed down because their target audience was cracking down on them for being a global contributor to fast fashion. This city has been making larger efforts to go green by installing solar panels to Capistrano Valley High School just last year, implementing the state mandated straw ban, and Saddleback College has an entire department dedicated to sustainable business plans.
Making honest efforts towards better businesses is something to be admired and promoted in today’s society. Everyone can do better and everyone can try to do so.