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Natural Awakenings Healthy Living Magazine

Fashion Industry Sustainability Campaigns Fall Short

Fashion accessories labeled with sustainable tag

Jess @ Harper Sunday/

The Changing Markets Foundation, founded in 2015 and based in the Netherlands, discovered that environmental certification programs claiming to verify the sustainability of fashion brands facilitate “greenwashing” for the apparel industry. A recent report proposes the certification programs provide, at best, a “patchy promise of sustainability.” The organization’s analysis of voluntary efforts designed to reduce fashion’s growing environmental footprint found the efforts instead led to increased pollution, and are helping to solidify the industry’s reliance on nonrenewable resources.

The report, which evaluated 10 of the most prominent sustainability certification programs for the fashion industry, states that fashion retailers are “lauded for working towards the reduction of plastic hangers, bags and other packaging, while their huge and growing use of plastic for clothes passes under the radar.”

George Harding-Rolls, a campaign manager at Changing Markets and lead author of the report, says, “Waste increases, utilization of clothes decreases and reliance on fossil fuels increases, yet these schemes continue to exist and say that sustainable fashion is just around the corner. This is actually preventing us from taking the more systemic action that we need, such as more regulation and legislation.”