While the fashion industry’s sustainability claims are getting more attention, it’s still possible to avoid greenwashing, argues one industry expert.
“The only way to fight greenwashing is to get the information, spend time with it, and have the drive to discover what that information is,” says Orsola, co-founder of Fashion Revolution. De Castro said at the start of the advocacy. The group’s annual Fashion Transparency Index held in London last month.
The seventh edition of the Index, which ranks the 250 of the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers based on public disclosure of human rights and environmental policies, practices and impacts, reveals what these companies are trying to say about their supplies. A chain operation, she said.
Companies are rated out of 250 across a myriad of categories, including purchasing practices, decarbonization goals and sustainable materials. This translates into a percentage score, higher is better.
“If you speak the language, you understand the nuances,” said DeCastro. “When it comes to greenwashing, this is a very important tool for being able to distinguish between what brands are actually doing and what they say they are doing.”
Some progress has been made in eliciting information from companies that are more accustomed to being tight-lipped than outspoken. When the first Fashion Transparency Index was published in 2016, only 5 out of 40 brands (just 12.5%) were prepared to divulge information about their inner workings. Currently, 121 out of 250, or 48%, are under scrutiny. This is likely reinforced by growing calls for more information from investors and policymakers in the US and her EU.
But overall progress ultimately remains “too slow,” Fashion Revolution has found, and the industry has a long way to go before it can stop its addiction to secrecy. The average score for brands and retailers is 24%, up just 1% from last year. Nearly a third of his companies, or 81 out of 250, scored less than 10% for him. Of those, 17 recorded his 0% strikeouts, including Elita Hari, Fashion Nova, Jil Sander, and Tom Ford. OVS, Kmart Australia and Target Australia only 3 brands he was over 70% and none over 80%.
H&M, the subject of a class action lawsuit over a “false and misleading” environmental scorecard and advertising, slipped from second to fourth place with a score of 66%.
Fashion Revolution policy and research director Liv Simpliciano said at the same event:
For Simpliciano, the results show that most clothing businesses fall short of what she calls “the bare minimum: being honest and truthful about their business practices.” Even simple achievements such as publishing a list of Tier 1 suppliers resulted in only 48% of the 250 companies adopting them, while the 10 brands reviewed in last year’s index were Bally, Chloé, I believe. increase. And despite the growing urgency of the climate crisis, brands and retailers who have unveiled decarbonization targets that cover not just Scopes 1 and 2, but their entire supply chain, said he is a third of her. was less than 1 of
commitment and results
Another issue, Simpliciano said, is that brands and retailers disclose more about their policies and commitments than about their outcomes and impacts. Twenty-eight percent of companies were candid about the circular solutions they were developing, but only 15% disclosed annual production volumes and only 8% shared post-production waste volumes.
“Brands are perfectly aware of how much they are producing, because if they don’t know what they are producing, they cannot sustain their business,” she said. “It is clear that they have chosen not to disclose this information, and it really masks the effects of overproduction and overconsumption. It shows that you may be more interested in profiting from the problem than in dealing with it.”
Degrowth seems like a “scary word” for the industry, she noted, but it’s “absolutely” necessary. “By the way, we cannot reasonably meet our carbon reduction targets by 2050,” said Simpliciano. “We are facing the climate crisis as it is. Code Red warning issued.”
Other numbers are equally dire. According to the index, only 11% of brands and retailers publish their suppliers’ wastewater test results, even though the textile industry is the leading source of water pollution. Only 24% disclose how to minimize the impact of microfibers, and a slightly higher 32% disclose manufacturing restricted substances lists.
When it comes to purchasing codes of conduct, only 12% indicate how purchasing practices affect suppliers and garment workers. In addition to this, the majority (94%) of the companies surveyed did not disclose the number of employees paying recruitment fees in their supply chain, indicating that they were “risk of forced labor.” It depicts an uncertain situation. Equally striking, only 13% of companies disclose how many of their supplier facilities have unions.
Interestingly, according to Maeve Galvin, project manager and global policy campaign director for Fashion Revolution’s European Citizens Initiative to Demand a Living Wage for Garment Workers, 84% of brands and retailers say they want freedom to work. It publishes a policy outlining its commitment to Associations, the right to organize and bargain collectively at the supply chain level.
“This speaks to what Liv has said before, which is a very articulated and very candid effort that is disclosed but not backed up by impact and progress data. says Galvin. “So the difference between 84% making a high level of commitment and 13% disclosing what the impact looks like on the ground is very clear. , consistent with what we know to be very difficult in some places and impossible in others.”
If workers cannot join unions, they cannot claim better working conditions and higher wages, she said.
“Garment-producing countries are some of the worst places in the world for trade unions,” Galvin added. It’s tied to the business model, and again, what really needs to be done here is to be honest and ensure that the brand’s promises about freedom of association and collective bargaining don’t align with what’s happening on the ground.”
make baseless claims
There are many other discrepancies. Another case in point: Nearly half (46%) of brands and retailers announced targets for sustainable materials, according to the Fashion Revolution tally, but provided information on what constitutes sustainable materials. Only 37% did.
This discrepancy has attracted increasing regulatory scrutiny. For example, the Norwegian Consumer Authority recently challenged Norrøna’s use of generalized Higg Materials Sustainability Index data to claim that its organic cotton t-shirts were superior to traditional alternatives. rice field. The UK Competition and Markets Authority warned at Asda last week that he would look to Asos, Boohoo and George to see if their green declarations would actually hold up (with scores of 51, 27 and 28 percent respectively). received.)
Ciara Barry, policy and research coordinator at Fashion Revolution, said, “Frankly, brands make claims about sustainable materials without clarifying what that means and backing it up with information. “This is an environment in which greenwashing is prevalent. I cannot make a claim without
Transparency, the emphasis of Fashion Revolution, should not be confused with sustainability. Just because a brand or retailer scores high in an index doesn’t mean it’s socially or environmentally superior.
“Transparency is just the first step, but it’s an important one,” said de Castro. “And this is the first step that has been increasingly recognized as what we all need to do against an industry that is cryptic, opaque and purposely designed to be so.”
“You can’t fix what you can’t see,” she added. “Holding brands accountable and allowing the industry to be scrutinized and scrutinized is the first step to understanding what brands are saying.”