Retail company H&M busted by regulators for ‘greenwashing’

It appears that fashion industry giants are trying to sell their products now by falsely portraying them as “sustainable” and environmentally friendly, including Swiss retail company H&M.

As climate change continues to worsen, more and more people are becoming more aware of what materials their clothing is made of and how they were manufactured, leading many to reject certain companies.

The growing trend in fashion today is clothing made of recycled materials manufactured in a way that does not hurt the environment. In short, clothing that is sustainable.

In an effort to draw consumer interest and generate sales, H&M proclaimed to produce sustainable clothing with up to 100 percent recycled or organic materials on the company website.

Our Conscious products contain at least 50% recycled materials, organic materials or TENCEL TM Lyocell material – in fact many contain 100%. Due to technological limitations to ensure product quality and durability there is one exception – the maximum share of recycled cotton we can currently use in a garment is 20%. We are however, working with new innovations to increase this share as soon possible.

There’s just one problem. H&M isn’t sharing just how their clothing is more “sustainable” than other clothing items they sell, which is raising concerns, especially from regulators who work at the Consumer Authority in Norway.

In fact, in a statement released to Quartz the agency passed judgement on H&M.

“Our opinion is that H&M are not being clear or specific enough in explaining how the clothes in the Conscious collection and their Conscious shop are more ‘sustainable’ than other products they sell,” deputy director general Bente Øverli said. “Since H&M are not giving the consumer precise information about why these clothes are labeled Conscious, we conclude that consumers are being given the impression that these products are more ‘sustainable’ than they actually are.”

In other words, H&M is guilty of greenwashing their products in order to sell them to environmentally conscious consumers. It’s the kind of shady business practice that should spell doom for any company, and certainly destroys a company’s credibility.

Our world has serious environmental sustainability problems that we are not going to overcome if businesses like H&M try to fake it because they are too lazy to take responsibility and make real changes.

This is a public relations nightmare for a company that relies on consumer trust to sell products. Now that the trust is gone, H&M will have to do better if it expects to gain it back. It’s either that or this becomes a crushing blow that shuts it down, thus making way for a company that actually does practice sustainability. Perhaps, that’s the best thing that could happen.

Featured Image: Wikimedia

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Stephen D. Foster Jr.

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