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Lakewood Times

    Eco-Friendly or Greenwashing?

    Eco-Friendly or Greenwashing?

    According to Ethical Consumer, greenwashing is defined as “the practice of companies launching adverts, campaigns, products etc. under the pretense that they are environmentally beneficial, often in contradiction to their environmental and sustainability record in general.”

    In recent years, awareness surrounding how people’s daily habits affect the planet has increased greatly — creating a change in lifestyle. People have become more conscious of what is being used to make their clothing, who is making it, where it’s being made and what steps clothing brands are taking in order to be more environmentally friendly (refusing to buy from fast-fashion brands.) Some brands have taken the steps necessary: lowering carbon emissions, limiting plastic packaging, refusal to use animal furs, recycling fabric, paying workers a livable wage, etc. Other brands have claimed to have made these changes but lack the evidence of doing so; they also launch campaigns where it seems like they are taking these steps in becoming more environmentally friendly but in reality…it’s all for show.

    Brands like American Eagle have used this “greenwashing” tactic in order to sway consumers who place value in finding environmentally friendly products. One way they achieved this was through their jeans, specifically jeans made from plastic water bottles. According to the American Eagle website, they’ve started using polyester made from recycled water bottles; in 2019, they’ll use the equivalent of 40 million plastic bottles. 

    This has caught the attention of many consumers, giving them the impression that they are doing something beneficial for the planet, and after reading American Eagle’s website it’s understandable why one would feel this way. But in reality, the brand never specified the kind of plastic water bottles they used. They specifically stated “recycles water bottles” and this doesn’t necessarily mean post-consumer plastic water bottles. This means that American Eagle and other brands using a similar campaign for their “eco-jeans” are very well using plastic water bottles that have never been used before in their denim…all this is doing is creating even more plastic which is the source to many of the planet’s issues.

    It’s great that many consumers have been more conscious about their shopping habits and paying close attention to what exactly they are buying; more light should be brought onto these brands that are trying to take advantage of their customer’s awareness.

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