Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Sustainability Gang. A Positive Green Initiative or Greenwash?


Earlier today this image from Instagram was brought to my attention via a Facebook Group I am in (Eco-Influencers | Sustainable Living Tribe).  The account is that of an American singer who is launching a series of clothes (merch) under the banner Sustainability Gang.  Other phrases to be used include "Who tryn save da ocean" and "puck flastic" and it is stated in the limited information available that all profits made will be given to a charity fighting plastic pollution in the oceans.

Well known singer using her influence to spread the green message and raising funds to fight plastic pollution.  Sounds like a good move, right?  Hmm, I am really not so sure.

Image from Instagram

If you look at the sweatshirt you'll see the logo of the company making the clothes - Champion and if you do a little research on them you'll see their sustainability record is very poor with the organisation Rank a Brand giving them a ranking of "E - Don't buy".  How can a product purporting to support sustainability be made by an organisation with such a poor eco-record?

On the the singer's instagram page this image has hundreds of thousands of likes and many comments with people saying how great it is what the singer is doing and they absolutely must have the sweatshirt.  It is driving consumerism encouraging people to buy a product that before seeing this image they had no desire to buy.  That is not sustainable.

More worrying though is the number of people who claim to be eco-friendly (including one lady who calls herself a "Sustainability Consultant") also applauding this idea.  No mention of how much pollution will be created when these products are made and transported.  No mention of increasing consumerism. No mention of globalisation. No mention of the poor eco-record of the company making the clothes.

As yet there is no information as to what the clothes are to be made from but anything less than organic cotton or better still organic linen, hemp or even wool isn't going to get any approval from me and even then I don't agree with the product.  As it stands the clothes are giving off contradictory messages.

From the fans' point of view it may seem like a great idea and having bought a sweatshirt they will feel they have helped the environment.   They will believe they have bought into an ethical fashion brand but this is not true.  You could argue that it will help spread the message about sustainability but I believe there are far better ways the singer could have used her influence to achieve this.  I would be very interested to know exactly how much money they raise as I am not sure it will be a large enough amount to make any significant difference.  Could she not have been seen wearing clothes from a sustainable brand and encouraged her fans to search out similar brands?  Or if she really wanted to sell clothes, at least have them made by a sustainable company.

Celebrities have huge influence over their fans and I believe this was a well thought out exercise in raising the profile of the singer whilst Champion will be only too pleased to be able to jump on the eco-bandwagon to appear more sustainable than they are.  The profit being donated to the organisation fighting plastic pollution is simply done to add the thinnest of extra green layers to a not at all green initiative.

> The singer will gain - increased fan base and more record sales etc
> Champion will gain - a greener image (not merited)
> The sustainability message will be weakened.

This is a classic and very good example of Greenwashing.

What are your views on Sustainability Gang? Good idea or greenwash?


22 comments :

  1. It seems like a great idea on the surface but I would be suspicious too - have you seen the Zoggs range that is made from recycled fishing nets - that is how it should be done!

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    1. My thoughts entirely, Kara, and I am waiting now to see how it pans out. She has a huge potential to get the sustainability message out there and show her fans what they can really do to help the environment (and it isn't buying merchandise) but I fear her approach is not going to achieve an overall environmental gain. Thank you so much for the Zoggs info - I have shared that on my IG account and will look to buy swimwear from them in the future.

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  2. What a shame she chose to work with Champion if they have such a bad environmental rating. A real missed opportunity.

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    1. Exactly, singers have so much opportunity to influence their fans but they do need to get it right.

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  3. What a shame all this is. Like you said it's the singer that will gain the most from this campaign!

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    1. Exactly - this story is being splashed all over the internet hailing her a saviour of the oceans. I will be interested to see how this venture pans out and what, if any, gains it generates.

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  4. That's very true - raising awareness should be the priority and not anything else. Sustainability is such an important topic!

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    1. It feels like she might have had a great idea but it has all gone rather wrong in its implementation. Such a great opportunity missed and maybe we will yet see her working with a truly sustainable clothing manufacturer.

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  5. Oh wow! This is an eye opener actually. You are so right. More people need to call out companies for doing this. It’s not something to cash in on. If we don’t fix this then there won’t be a plant left for our grandchildren or even our children!

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    1. Thank you - I just wish I could get this message across to the thousands of her fans who think they will be saving the ocean by buying yet more stuff.

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  6. Oh goodness, I would never have realised this! Thank you for delving deeper and making me think. What a shame things are not always as ethical as they appear.

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    1. Greenwash is big business and something I fear we will see more of as more and more people and businesses try to cash in on saving the earth.

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  7. It is so very hard nowadays to discern if something we see is actually what we think it is. Without doing research you can get sucked in and think you're being sustainable and green and then find you're not. Mich x

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    1. You re so right, Michelle, and it drives me mad. It is true it is impossible to be completely sustainable in everything we do but making eco-friendly decisions is not easy when manufacturers, celebrities, supermarkets etc are greenwashing us at every turn.

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  8. I am not so sure of this Greenwash thing. Never knew it was a thing if I am being completely honest. Good you are spreading the word.

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    1. Unfortunately I think it is something we will see more and more of as people look to make money from the increasing desire by the public to be green/eco/sustainable etc. This is another blog post I wrote about greenwashing - http://eco-gites.blogspot.com/2018/06/green-or-greenwash.html

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  9. There is nothing great at all about this is there. What is good though is that people like you can raise awareness that this singer and the brand aren't actually providing anything sustainable.

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    1. I just wish I could reach as wide an audience as the singer can. I would love to be able to show each person who is wanting to buy these clothes that their choice may not be as sustainable as they think it should be.

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  10. This is shocking isn't it. Brands shouldn't be able to dress things up as something they are not. At least with the internet it's good to put the other point of view out there like this

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    1. I totally agree about brands not misleading people but sadly that has been happening since the day anybody promoted anything. It just makes me really ma when it is greenwashing.

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  11. Oh wow this is shocking. You'd think her pr team might have done research first before having her promote such a brand. I wouldn't be surprised if the celeb had no idea.

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  12. It's bad that they seem to be using the idea of being eco friendly and sustainable to make more money if that is what is happening here. I really hope it isn't.

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