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Greenwashing: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt Your Business

Updated: May 11, 2021

These days, there’s a ton of misinformation floating around about anything and everything.

It’s hard to know what is true and what is false, which sources to trust and most importantly how to be a part of the solution instead of the problem.

One of the biggest issues facing the fashion world and jewellers in particular is Greenwashing.

What exactly is Greenwashing?

Read on to learn all about it, how to spot it, and how you can join the fight to stop this deceptive practice.

What is greenwashing?

Greenwashing is by definition, the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company's products or practices are more environmentally sound than they actually are. It can also take the form of an unsubstantiated claim to deceive consumers into believing that a company's products are environmentally friendly.

Think, The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy finally peeks behind the emerald green curtain and finds...womp womp. Just a guy pretending to have all of the answers.

It makes sense though, right? There’s a beautiful shift happening in the hearts and minds of our younger generations. They’re hyper aware that the state of our planet is deteriorating thanks to past not so sustainable practices. It’s understood that this is the only home they’ll be inheriting and the future is their hands. In other words, sustainability is mandatory.

Unfortunately, any company that understands “what the people want” knows this too. Thus Greenwashing was born.

Companies that indulge in Greenwashing know they can get away with simply appearing green rather than taking the time, spending the capital, and making the concerted effort it takes to become a legitimate sustainable and ethical company with eco-friendly practices and products.

But identifying as a sustainable business is not just about the planet or being eco-friendly. It’s a sustainable approach to literally every part of the process from raw materials to production as well as the practices, materials used and even treatment of employees. That’s where ethical trading comes in.

Ethical Trading

Ethical trading is a practice retailers, brands and their suppliers use to take responsibility for improving the working conditions of the people who make the products they sell. While it’s just a single cog in the wheel of practicing sustainability for businesses, it’s crucial.

Can you really call yourself a sustainable business if you’re not paying your employees fair wages, giving them decent working conditions, and ensuring fair practices within the working environment? We couldn’t.

In fact, we take ethical trading so seriously that we are audited several times per year by Internationally recognised auditors to ensure we are compliant with Thai and International labour laws.

At Phoenix Design Group understand and love the fact that our staff members are our greatest assets! We strive to provide a safe and comfortable working environment for all members of our Phoenix family!

How to Spot Greenwashing vs. Legit Sustainable Organizations

As Greenwashing becomes more easily identifiable, smart/deceptive companies will follow suit to make themselves harder to identify. Here are a few commonalities we’ve noticed amongst the transgressors:

● Hidden Trade-Offs

  • Think “low-fat” nutrition label claims that are meant to distract from the added sugars or carbs. The bad essentially neutralizes the good and you’re left right back where you started

● Unsubstantiated Claims

  • Look for the phrase “trust but verify” and about 25% of the time you’ll find absolutely no way to verify the claim.

● Vague Promises

  • Be sure the company defines words like organic, sustainable, efficient, etc.

● Irrelevant Information

  • The old bait and switch: Irrelevance refers to claims that aren’t necessarily false but are essentially unimportant to the environmental performance of a product or practices of the services/manufacturer.

Here’s a list of fashion jewellery manufacturing practices we personally partake in that will serve as a head start to help you identify the truly sustainable companies you want to work with. Is your current manufacturer:

● Audited by Internationally Recognized Organizations

  • Not just once or twice but multiple times per year and not just that we’re compliant with Thai labour laws but international labour laws.

  • Are they or their supply chain members of the Responsible Jewellery Council?

● Affiliated with Like-Minded, Ethical Brands

  • We are currently partnered with registered British Environmental charity the PATT Foundation.

  • The British Paralympic athletes wore our jewellery when they competed in the 2016 Olympic Games and we are so proud to work with them. We’ve actually partnered with the GB team again for the 2021 games to be held in Japan this year!

  • UK registered charity CHOOSE LOVE and their Help Refugees project in collaboration with one of our favourite clients.

● Have Third Party Organizations Verify Their Claims

  • Anyone can say they’re doing all the right things. We prove it by using certified refined and re-cycled raw material. We’re also happy to be as transparent as possible and share this information with you. Feel free to contact us with any questions you have!

How can you help?

You have more power than you realize!

Supply and Demand are real metrics that WE have the power to sway. It will take all of us working together toward a similar sustainable goal to change the future of the fashion industry forever!

Here are a few ways you can take action and be a part of the force for change:

  1. Do your research

    1. You’re one step closer after reading this blog! As with any research you do, make sure the source is a fair and accurate one.

  2. Invest in sustainable companies

    1. Use your wallet as your voice and boycott those that are known for Greenwashing

  3. Use your actual voice

    1. Call out unethical practices when you see them

    2. Tweet, Post, Paint, Write, Sing, Yell - whatever it takes to get the word out!

    3. Use hashtags on posts to spread the news far and wide #GreenOut

  4. Raise awareness - Join the fight!

    1. Share this blog with friends and family, especially if their involved in the fashion/manufacturing industry

    2. Remember to inform vs. insult - They may not even know it’s happening or how they can help

Some Gen Zers are even using the tools at their fingertips to make their voices heard. For example, over 300k TikTok users took to the platform in January of 2021 to call out Proctor and Gamble for making a big show out of announcing their sustainable practices while simultaneously ravishing the Boreal Forests of Canada for one of their large brands, Charmin Toilet Paper.

If it wasn’t clear before, the risk of being “greenwash labeled” as a business is high and the consequences could be tantamount.

Work With Us

We work hard to maintain ethical and sustainable practices as a jewellery manufacturer. And we’re passionate about helping the fashion industry grow into a more responsible version of itself without losing a stitch of what makes it so beautiful, fun and unique.

If you’re looking for a team with ethical core values, sustainable practices, drool-worthy designs as well as custom options, and the ability to take your brand to the next green level - let’s work together!

Contact us here on our website or give us a call.

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