Why Greenwashing is Not the Answer

shutterstock_76232575We have all heard the term greenwashing – usually applied to corporations that make superficial adjustments to give the appearance of being environmentally sustainable when in fact their processes may be anything but. These greenwashing techniques distract us from the reality of the damage that some companies cause.

We have found a growing trend of fashion manufacturers that are focussing publicly on the end-of-life process and it can be argued by some that it is an effort to distract from the toxicity of the manufacturing process. As long as they keep the narrative focused on offering end of life solutions for their product, which the sector already has solutions for – just ask the dozens of charities that depend on clothing donations for stable funding and their recycling partners like TWD – they hope we will take pressure off where the real problem in fashion manufacturing is, the creation of new garments.

Globalization has moved almost all fashion manufacturing overseas, and this includes the manufacturing of raw materials such as textiles. The industry is manufacturing in countries that have poor safety and labour regulations, harmful chemicals through the dying and manufacturing process, and the use of child labour. These are just some of the issues we really need to be paying attention to. The fact that these atrocities are happening on the other side of the planet makes it easy for us to avoid.

Truth be told, the textile reclamation process can be lucrative. Many retailers are now competing with charities that fundraise through textile collection by implementing their own collection process under the guise of sustainability, when the actual truth is that they have just found a supplementary income stream that can be easily publicly positioned to appear as though it is a new sustainable commitment.

Companies like iCollect in Europe and Textile Waste Diversion in Canada make it very easy for fashion retailers to provide their customers with end-of-life solutions, but TWD firmly takes the position that although we are pleased to provide Canadian fashion distributers this service, we urge them to continue to focus on the manufacturing process! We will take care of their end-of-life problems, so that they can focus their energy where it’s actually needed; improving the sustainability in their production model. How can brands remain competitive while re-energizing local manufacturing, and local sourcing? Can chemical processes be altered to be less toxic?

If fashion brands want to enter the reclamation sector because it is profitable, they should be honest about it. The ethical issue comes when this purely fiscal decision is misrepresented as proof of sustainability when often the manufacturing process quite easily proves otherwise.

We believe a transparent approach is needed in the fashion industry. We should focus on sustainability where the damage is being done; in the manufacturing. Let the recyclers and charities worry about proper reclamation and disposal. Manufacturers should focus on ethical sourcing & manufacturing.

How does TWD service distributors:

We provide distributors and retailers various reclamation options that protect their brand value while still prioritizing reuse, all while raising revenue for charities and the brand themselves. We are happy and proud to provide this service and hope it supports a trend to actually greening the manufacturing process as well.

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