How the Fashion Industry is Punking Us with “Zombie Data”
As environmental advocates, it was disheartening for us to discover that the fashion industry has been caught red handed using “zombie data” to bolster their claims of sustainability. Zombie data is data that is false, unverifiable or lacking credibility, and it hurts everyone in the ecosystem.
The financial think tank Planet Tracker recently shed light on the fashion industry’s serious problem with misinformation, most specifically in how they use it to look like they’re committed to ‘the cause’ when they are actually culprits. For instance, when examining the water footprint of cotton production, Planet Tracker found a significant disparity in reported data. While some sources suggest that it takes 2.4 liters of water per gram of cotton for a shirt, the actual amount could be as high as 20 liters per gram. Further, the water usage can vary depending on the region of cotton production or the specific agricultural water footprint considered in the analysis.
It gets worse. A study conducted last year on the websites of major British and European fashion brands revealed that 60% of environmental claims made by these companies were either unsubstantiated or misleading. The Changing Markets Foundation found that 39% of the assessed products carried sustainability-related claims, but only 41% of these claims complied with the Competition and Markets Authority’s guidelines on greenwashing.
This ambiguity resulting from the use of zombie data has ripple effects, and none of them are good. These companies risk obliterating their reputation and facing regulatory scrutiny, and they put their investors in a v-e-r-y precarious position.
Three Words: Supply Chain Transparency
A new initiative called Fashion Declares has been launched by prominent figures in the sustainability space aiming to transform the fashion industry, which is currently one of the most polluting and unjust industries in the world (umm, did you watch The True Cost?!!) Fashion Declares wants to gather over 50,000 signatories to an open letter committing to five essential actions: urgent climate action, decarbonization, ecosystem restoration, a just transition, radical transparency, and the adoption of a regenerative fashion model.
The other factor is what we’re doing here–creating awareness. It’s crucial for people to know about the fashion industry’s use of zombie data to punk their consumers and investors, and consumers make them bend the knee with one thing–their wallets. Prioritize transparency and traceability in their supply chains, ensuring that sustainability claims are backed by verifiable and accurate information. Only through such responsible practices can we foster a truly sustainable and ethical fashion industry, but only by buying for decent brands to we make sure it stays that way.
By evee Life Contributor
Published May 24, 2023 3:13AM
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