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Is the Fashion Industry Blinding Us With Greenwashing?

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Is it right to criticise a fashion brand who is doing so much more than most? Or by slapping companies on the back for doing little things do we risk them never taking the bigger steps?

The other day I was criticised on Twitter for not jumping up and down with joy when Marks & Spencers announced The World's Most Sustainable Suit. Coming so quickly after Marks & Spencers were accused of human rights abuses the announcement stuck in my throat. It choked me even more when I heard people calling it "brave".

Let's get this clear - there's nothing brave about this. Brave is a young girl who runs away from employers who've kept her captive behind a barbed wire fence. Doing a few quick fix green things, like recycling, is easy. It's the minimum businesses should be doing.

But my detractors remained firm, and they weren't lone voices. They argued that M&S were doing more than most and should be commended for taking the lead. And after all, Rome wasn't built in a day and our problems with the fashion industry are so complex they won't disappear quickly.

But despite this it still sticks with me. M&S weren't even vaguely repentent about the report that came out about them being involved in slavery. They and the other brands involved simply played a "he said, she said" game with the NGOs who had exposed them. And blasting on with their other eco initiatives stinks a bit of greenwashing to me.

And this is the danger. With so many fashion brands realising they can no longer do nothing, they want to be seen to do something. But they also don't want to delve very deeply in to the mess they've created. So we see things like Tommy Hilfiger donating a bit to charity without exploring any other aspect of their supply chain.

So while I appreciate that it's good that brands like M&S are starting to act on sustainability, we can't ever let up. It's time we say, thanks for doing that, but what are you going to do next? Because "more than most" is never enough.

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