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Greenwashing Strategies in the Textile Industry - Nur Durmaz

Greenwashing is a term used by 20th-century environmentalist Jay Westerveld to criticize hotels. Even though greenwashing is a foreign term, it is an expression of mistakes made by companies and manufacturers and can be encountered frequently. This term is used in the name of institutions, companies, or organizations that want to influence people and create a social image, despite the positive effects they have made under the name of the environment; in fact, this is not the case. In other words, even if a company claims to be doing something for the environment, on the other hand, it is called "Greenwashing" when it harms the environment.

Even though greenwashing, is a method used by small companies to grow, it is seen that even large companies that are expected not to harm the environment and brands whose products are sold in the name of "environmental" are doing greenwashing today. The biggest examples of this are big brands like H&M and Zara. Fast Fashion triggers Greenwashing. Fast Fashion, which is caused by the hunger for consumption as the trends change rapidly and people enter the fashion race with each other with fast communication, is called the fact that people make the products that they normally wear and consume for 4-5 years, not two months, with cheaper materials and sell them at more affordable prices. The product used with Fast Fashion deteriorates and rots more quickly. Therefore, people want to buy the same or similar products. An individual who wants to buy a better quality product and use it longer must buy a product that is much more expensive than its normal price. Considering the Turkish economy, although it is normal for a minimum wage individual not to buy or buy a very expensive product, they should not be expected to pay 1000 TL for a pair of trousers. Of course, these frequently bought clothes come from stores like H&M and Zara.

H&M has been producing products with natural cotton products or recycled materials for about 2-3 years. With the institution called "Better Cotton Initiative," cotton is kept away from harmful chemicals, and this cotton is produced in accordance with workers' rights. But H&M is one of the leading brands that make Fast Fashion while advertising it. 2-3 years ago, when people were shopping, they preferred H&M because it had cheap and high-quality goods, but now they are unfortunately faced with Fast Fashion. In addition to the goods produced by environmental and human exploitation, expensive products are also sold under the name of recycling, and premiums are made with the sensitivity of the consumers.

Greenwashing can be done in 7 different ways.

  1. It is the manufacture of demonstrable environmental approaches that are easily accessible to people or the so-called environmental products that are not certified by a third party.

  2. The presence of the words "100% natural" or "all-natural, no harmful product used" on products can be noticed by the consumer very simply that a harmful substance is used.

  3. It is the advertisement of the product by using pictures and slogans, giving the impression of third-party approval.

  4. Regardless of other important issues, it is claimed that the raw material of the product produced is environmentally friendly.

  5. While a claim may be true, it is trivial for individuals seeking products that are safer for the environment.

  6. Even if it is a true claim for the products, it is the removal of the consumer from a larger environmental formation.

  7. Claims that are considered environmentalist are completely false.

When looking at the types of greenwashing listed above, it is seen that it is necessary to question whether a product is really environmentally friendly or not. Labels, pictures, and slogans attract people. Every product sold under the name of the green market may not be produced in an environmentally friendly way and may mislead these individuals. According to a decision from the Norwegian consumer arbitration committee in 2019, it has been seen that the information on H&Mwhether the products sold under the name "Conscious" are sustainable or not is not sufficient.

Consumers can more easily be protected from greenwashing when they are aware of this. In addition to having awareness, they must know more about the brands that produce the clothes they buy. Suppose it is really desired to buy a sustainable product. In that case, questions can be asked to the manufacturer about this issue, or it can be understood whether it is sustainable from the materials written on the label. The label says, "Made with completely organic materials." It is necessary not to be deceived by articles such as these and to be able to compare them with truly sustainable products. Simply put, it can be sustainable by minimizing the number of clothes to be bought. Of course, it is very difficult to make these recommendations in a fast fashion world. Therefore, countries' green laundering control systems are of great importance at this point. One of the most successful ways of dealing with green laundering is that countries and international organizations create policies and support countries for green laundering. The work of the European Commission began to increase in 2020 on this issue. As seen in the European Parliament, the number of people who care about a greener world has increased considerably. In this context, policies that can overcome the problems brought by consumer hunger have been led together by the majority of people. As part of the New Consumer Agenda strategies, in November 2020, the European Commission announced that it is working on the green laundering problem. These studies will not remain only among policymakers. The role of the consumer is very important. They need to be aware of their safe access to sustainable products and their crucial role in sustainability. Of course, in the end, the preference for environmentally friendly and sustainable consumption should be seen as a lifestyle and a norm.


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