Greta Thunberg says fast fashion industry is fooling people by ‘greenwashing’

Activist says 90 per cent of her clothes are second hand

Saman Javed
Wednesday 26 October 2022 08:05 BST
Barack Obama meets with Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg has spoken out against the fast fashion industry for “greenwashing” as she calls on influencers and the media to raise awareness of the link between fashion and the climate crisis.

The Swedish environmental activist said that around 90 per cent of her wardrobe is made up of clothing that came from other people, such as old clothes from her family or friends.

Thunberg made the comments in a new video from Elle UK’s “Ask Me Anything” YouTube series.

When asked by fellow activist Aja Barber about how she talks to her friends about fast fashion, Thunberg said: “Most people know [fast fashion] is very harmful for the environment, but I think many people seem to think there are many in the fashion industry who are trying to become better and more sustainable, and so on.

“When, in fact, that’s very often not the case. They are using that in order to make people think that they’re doing something – they’re using ‘greenwashing’, which is a common misconception.”

Recent years have seen a multitude of fast fashion brands make claims about sustainability. Zara’s “Join Life” campaign includes pieces made from recycled wool and organic cotton, while each item in H&M’s “Conscious” collection is made up of at least 20-50 per cent sustainable materials.

However, an investigation by the Changing Markets Foundation (CMF) earlier this year found evidence that some brands claims did not stand up.

The CMF accused Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS of greenwashing, alleging that it found “no evidence” to support the shapewear brand’s conscious claims about its packaging.

SKIMS packaging claims not to contain any plastic, but the CMF highlighted that the packaging lists a number 4 recycling logo. This indicates that the packaging is made from a type 4 plastic or low-density polyethylene (LDPE).

Thunberg said consumer behaviours need to change, and more widespread education about the impact of the fashion industry is needed.

“We need to move away from this view of the planet and of stuff, we are constantly just hoarding stuff and then throwing it away,” Thunberg said.

“As activists, we understand the link between [the oil industry] and fast fashion, but overall people don’t seem to grasp the full consequences of the fashion industry.”

The fashion industry accounts for around 10 per cent of carbon emissions across the world, with research by consulting firm McKinsey finding that it was responsible for 2.1 billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gases in 2018.

Thunberg said she takes care of her own carbon footprint by refusing to buy new clothes.

“I would say that more than 90 per cent of my clothes I have been given are from other people like family members, friends and classmates because i don’t buy new things,” Thunberg said.

“And also, I’m short, which means that when people grow out of their old clothes they can give them to me which is convenient for me.”

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