Certification and greenwashing

One of the things I’m very keen on is for my new venture to be an authentic company – one that is really doing the right thing and not just “greenwashing”.

It always bugs me when I see fallacious claims from the latest “we’re on the bandwagon” company that’s joined the green brigade. And as a “consumer” it’s usually (though not always) easy to pick the real deal.

It seems, though, that regulators such as the ACCC are starting to take an interest, with plans to crack down on greenwashing. Such moves make it all the more important to truly walk the walk.

It strikes me that one of the best ways to do that is to participate in independently verified certification schemes that support any claims made.

There are plenty of schemes out there, from using certified organic cotton to the Fairwear “No Sweatshop” label to the Fair Trade standards and Clean clothes codes of conduct.

All of these certifications does have a cost associated with it, and many are “compatible” with each other – and as the business progresses I’ll be looking into many of these in further detail (there’s already some discussion and review on the old blog as a starting point).

On that front I was interested to read this week a news report about the Green Pages’ “Principles of Sustainable Fashion” and the related Eco Runway Show.

From the press release:

Katie Patrick, CEO and founder of Green Pages,
points out that whilst a range of international environmental standards exist along with Australia’s own Good Environmental Choice standard, not one fashion brand in Australia has adopted a comprehensive environmental standard.

The Eco Runway Show will highlight designs from Akira, Gorman, Vixen, Sara Victoria, India Flint, Romance-was-Born, Rachael Cassar, Camilla, Nudie Jeans, and more, that comply with the Principles.

The principles are a “starting point”, calling on designers to create products:

  • Being made of at least 50% organic cotton or wool, hemp, silk or bamboo fibres.
  • Incorporating dyes and pigments that are vegetable-based.
  • Incorporating recycled or reclaimed materials.
  • Incorporating materials with Fair Trade Certification.
  • Incorporating recycled synthetic fibres.

As a purely environmental standard, the principles don’t include labour standards (I don’t believe you can separate the two issues, but I’ll talk more on that another time) – but they are indeed a good starting point.

The PDF media release (PDF 130 KB) highlights a number of standards and bodies working on the environmental impact of textiles – and form the basis of the Green Pages’ broader call for fashion labels to take account of their entire footprint (incl. carbon and waste) rather than just in the materials they use.

I’ll certainly be looking into these further over time, as it seems to me this kind of standard would be a good thing for our label to support.