As more and more conscious consumers demand transparency and look for safer or more sustainable alternatives to products that have typically long been accepted, topics such as zero-waste, slow fashion, fair trade, climate change, etc are gaining momentum. Greenwashing is when brands (who aren’t as conscious as they claim) throw around buzz-words such as “sustainable”, “natural”, or “eco-friendly” to market to their audience, often misleading them into believing that through their purchase, they’re making a more ethical choice than they really are.
I recently experienced greenwashing with a skincare brand I made a purchase from. After placing my order, I had a concern about an ingredient their website claimed wasn’t used due to environmental and health risks, but a closer look at the ingredient label in fact listed it as the first and primary ingredient. Being a company that puts a large emphasis on being completely natural, and who encourages their customers to do their own research into brands and ingredients, I fully expected them to be open and honest, providing clarification, education, and transparency when I reached out to them. Instead, the response I received was extremely vague, and questions regarding the safety of this ingredient were left unacknowledged and unanswered. I was disappointed to learn that this company would rather pressure me to cancel my order, than be forthcoming or make an effort to ease my concerns.
PSA: Brands that are mindful of their practices and processes for the right reasons (i.e.: not to capitalize on a movement) are passionate about these topics! They appreciate customers that take the time to inform themselves, and are happy to answer questions you might still have! This is why I love supporting small businesses, slow fashion brands, and makers/artisans over chain stores. Not only is the quality so much more apparent, but in most cases I’ve come across, they’re more willing to educate their audience on their standards, values, practices, and more.
Moral of the story? Do your research. Look at ingredient labels. Understand the impact materials or processes have on the planet and it’s inhabitants. Learn about the treatment and conditions of those who create what you consume. Contact brands when you have questions. Be aware of red flags (like “ghosting” or vague answers). Look deeper into fast-fashion brands that all of a sudden claim be offering conscious alternatives. Support small.