In recent years, sustainable products have become incredibly popular. While consumers are consistently choosing eco-friendly products, brands are rushing to try to meet that demand. As a result, many brands have resorted to greenwashing – marketing their handbags and backpacks as sustainable, without really understanding the product’s environmental footprint.
In fact, it’s estimated that 40% of sustainability claims overstate their environmental impact or are misleading in some way.
In this article, we’ll discuss what greenwashing is, how to avoid it, and how to choose a more sustainable handbag factory
What is Greenwashing?
Greenwashing is when a brand or company provides partial information or makes unsubstantiated claims to give the consumer a false impression of sustainability.
Sometimes it even occurs without the intention of greenwashing. This is especially true for smaller brands that depend on statements from material suppliers and factories, which aren’t always completely truthful.
Ultimately, these false claims hurt the consumer and the reputation of the brand, ruining the trust between a brand and its customers.
Additionally, it delays incredibly important action needed to address climate change. At present, the fashion industry emits double the CO2 of flight and maritime transport and creates 92 million tons of waste each year.
How Can You Tell if a Product or Material Is Truly Green?
If your brand is looking to make more sustainable products, the best thing you can do is research. Look into your manufacturer or material supplier’s practices.
Ask them for statistical information to back up any green claims.
You can also ask them for their green certifications, like the GRS, Green Seal, Forest Stewardship Council, or Energy Star.
When reviewing claims of sustainability, look for the following:
- Claims should be written in plain, easy-to-understand language.
- Claims should provide factual data proving the product’s impact.
- Claims should specify what aspect of the product they apply to. For example, is the entire backpack made of recycled plastic bottles, or just the lining? This will lead you to ask what the other components or packaging are made of.
Greenwashing Is a Larger Problem
Greenwashing is a much larger problem beyond an individual brand or company. Manufacturers and even governments need to take action against false claims made in an attempt to greenwash consumers.
Potential regulations could include:
● Products using RPET brands should state how much PET is used in each product.
● Brands claiming to be carbon neutral or negative should follow the EPA’s rules for carbon offset integrity.
● Products claiming to use organic natural materials like cotton or hemp should be GOTS certified.
● Handbag factories claiming to save water or energy during manufacturing should clearly state their water and energy usage alongside the standard usage. They should also be able to provide credible sources for standard usage.
Governments are already getting involved with greenwashing. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has Green Guides which address misleading sustainability claims. In the U.K., the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 contains several policies that, although not directly aimed at greenwashing, protect against such false claims.
For example, Regulation 5 prohibits misleading and false commercial practices and Regulation 6 prohibits commercial practices that hide material information.
BSK: A Transparent Handbag Factory
Despite the laws and regulations in place, greenwashing still occurs to this day. At BSK, we pride ourselves on transparency. At our handbag factory, we audit our suppliers to ensure that the information and certifications they provide to us are accurate. Then, we give our clients all relevant certificates from our suppliers.
This ensures that our clients can properly understand and market their backpacks and handbags, whether they choose sustainable materials or not. In this way, our clients can avoid greenwashing and maintain an open and honest relationship with their customers.
Taking the extra steps needed to ensure that your product is sustainable can be costly and time-consuming. However, it’s well worth it for the good of your customers, your brand, your reputation, and most importantly, the planet.
We’d love to explore how our expertise can deliver results for your business. Get in touch to find out more.