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How Brands Are Leveraging Sustainability Claims Through Certifications

Sustainability has become an issue of paramount importance in the fashion industry, and rightfully so. However, it has also given rise to a number of brands resorting to greenwashing in order to sell more goods based on nothing but random blanket statements. 

Greenwashing’ is a term that was coined by NY-based environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986, inspired by the irony of the "save the towel" movement in hotels that suggested themselves as being environmentally friendly for giving guests the option to not have their towels washed every day. Westerveld found that this tricked guests into thinking the hotel was environmentally conscious when it was just saving money. Today, greenwashing has taken new forms with the use of buzzwords like eco-conscious, sustainable, environmentally-friendly, among many more as mere marketing gimmicks that have no real proof backing them. This is where sustainable certifications come into play. According to a study by the Changing Markets Foundation, a social and environmental advocacy group, states that 67% of consumers say they struggle to determine which clothing brands or suppliers meet higher ethical standards and only 1 in 5 trusts the sustainability information provided by brands themselves. The study also found that almost half (44%) trust third-party certifications the most. So what are these certifications, really?

Sustainable certifications help brands incorporate critical production criteria and compliance requirements from the design stage to the end of the life-cycle. Attaining certifications involves the auditing of a company’s structure and inner workings like legal compliance, appropriate water resources management, waste and energy management, among many more. The fashion industry now has a slew of certifications but deciphering them can make matters murky. Listed below are some of the most common certifications that consumers should look out for as a means to avoid greenwashing and educate themselves;

Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2020-03-09

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