Greenwashing VS Nothing: What’s Worse?


Taylor Ford

This or That

August 18, 2021

After reading countless reviews about various companies greenwashing or just ignoring sustainability all together, I found myself wondering- what’s worse?

I think most of us have heard of Shein before, a brand that produces insane amounts of clothing for low prices. With this business model, it’s virtually impossible for Shein to be sustainable as they are continuously perpetuating the cycle of overconsumption. Consumers will buy a bunch of cheap clothes that they wear for a couple of months, then throw them away when they inevitably break or go out of style, leading them to buy the next bunch of clothes.

Even if Shein had anything to say about their sustainability efforts, it wouldn’t mean anything unless they completely changed their business model. Considering they built their whole brand off fast fashion trends, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Shein makes no efforts to inform consumers about what, where, or how their products are made. They take zero responsibility for their role in climate change because if they did, they wouldn’t be in business anymore.

Now that we’ve talked about Shein, it’s time we pay homage to the ultimate creator of fast fashion: Zara.

Zara, unlike Shein, is trying to distance themselves from their fast fashion roots.

They recently released a “join-life” collection aimed at producing more sustainable clothing, but it reeks of greenwashing.

Zara emphasizes the use of recycled materials in this “eco-friendly” line of clothing, yet recycled materials only make up less than half of the materials used in most of the pieces. They continue to use petroleum-based materials such as polyester in this line, and they still provide no information about the production of these products.

Even with this line, Zara is STILL fast fashion! They are still promoting the vicious cycle of overconsumption! Just because they slap the word “eco-conscious” on this line of clothing does NOT make them sustainable!

So now that we have looked at these two infamous fast fashion brands, what’s worse, greenwashing, or nothing?

In my opinion, greenwashing is worse. All this money goes into surface-level sustainability efforts that don’t make real, positive impacts on the environment. Greenwashing is more of an effort to save face and avoid accountability rather than actual commitments to fight climate change. Comparing Zara and Shein, there’s almost no difference. One just fools consumers into thinking they’re helping the environment.

At least when a company doesn’t greenwash and instead avoids sustainability completely, they aren’t manipulating their consumers and pouring resources into performative measures that do nothing for the environment.

Of course, neither Zara nor Shein is good, but we cannot continue to allow corporations to hide behind the phrase “eco-conscious.” It is a manipulation tactic to profit off people trying to do right by the environment, and frankly, it’s disgusting.

We need to call these corporations out on their BS and recognize that greenwashing does more harm than good!

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