‘Green’ & ‘Eco-Friendly’ Are Meaningless in Fashion

Giada Nizzoli

‘Green’ & ‘Eco-Friendly’ Are Meaningless in Fashion

“Wait, you’re saying fashion brands shouldn’t try to be more eco-friendly?!”

Not at all.

In fact, we believe the opposite is true.

It’s the actual terms that can be meaningless and even counterproductive.

Here’s why.

Green usually means… greenwashing

A brand’s promotion of sustainability is an important purchasing factor for 63% of consumers (which is excellent!).

Unfortunately, some fishy brands have been taking advantage of eco-conscious consumers like you through greenwashing.

If you’re not familiar with this term, it’s the dodgy practice of tricking customers into thinking that a company is environmentally friendly.

This is usually done using misleading statements, omitting information, or even… down-right lying.

For example, think of cheap fast fashion t-shirts with ‘natural cotton’ on the label. Yes, cotton is indeed natural, but it’s usually loaded with pesticides and has a terrible environmental footprint. In fact, a single cotton t-shirt requires 2,700 litres of water!

Plant and green fingers to symbolise greenwashing

Some popular, meaningless terms you might have noticed (especially when fast fashion brands introduce “sustainable” collections) are:

  • Bio
  • Green
  • Ethical
  • Natural
  • Eco-friendly 
  • Environmentally friendly


Because they’re not quantifiable or verifiable on their own, and they don’t paint the whole picture.

Now, the terms aren’t problematic per se

In fact, we use ‘eco-friendly’ as a filter to help you find garments that are kinder towards the environment. Once you’ve selected that, however, you’ll see exactly why each product was tagged that way.

The actual problem is when brands leave it at ‘green’ and ‘eco-friendly’.

What sustainable fashion needs is transparency and proof. Not vague terms and empty promises!

We believe brands must explain exactly how their products are ‘eco-friendly’, backing it up with data and proof.

Too many companies hide:

  • pesticides behind ‘natural cotton’ labels
  • polluting production practices behind ‘green’ t-shirts
  • sweatshops behind ‘cruelty-free’ vegan products

That’s just greenwashing and performative marketing!

How to stop being tricked by these generic terms

Model wearing an eco warrior t-shirt

If you really want to support ethical brands rather than fast fashion collections disguised as sustainable options, here’s what you can do.

1. Steer clear of brands that only use vague terms

Do they keep talking about their ‘green’ collections or ‘eco-friendly’ products but never explain what makes them good for the environment?

That’s usually bad news!

2. Check if they have any sustainable fashion certifications

It’s easy to lie when saying “we use green cotton”. If a third-party is involved, however, that’s a different matter.

So, look for certifications like the Global Organic Textile Standard, Better Cotton Initiative, PETA for vegan products, and so on.

3. Look for a sustainability page on their website

Most ethical brands lead with their commitment towards the planet. Some others keep it on a separate page to avoid being seen as “just another sustainable brand without a distinctive design”.

Either way, if they are legit, they will at least have a sustainability/ethos page backed up with data, certifications, and proof.

4. Go beyond the eco-friendly side of things

Don’t forget about the workers who made those clothes! Is this particular brand transparent about its supply chain? 

If not, it might hide sweatshop-style factories.

5. Consider using our search engine for ethical fashion

We know this can be overwhelming and time-consuming. 

So, at Project Cece, we’ve done the hard work to let you find hundreds of sustainable fashion brands in one place!

You can use our filters to focus on what matters the most to you, from materials to ethos and styles. Still, once you look at a specific product, you’ll always see exactly why it’s sustainable. 

Enough with meaningless terms and greenwashing! 

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Project Cece is a platform that collects ethical fashion from vetted brands and shops in one place. Browse ethical fashion for women and men and find items that fit your style, budget and values!

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