Greenwashing Alert: H&M and Billie Eilish Collection

Katherine Saxon

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The new H&M and Billie Eilish collection just dropped on January 2, 2020, with H&M hailing it as “edgy and sustainable merch.”

Call the collaboration whatever you wish, don’t call it sustainable.

What the collection loudly puts forth in eco claims, it lacks in transparency and substance.

No, we’re not saying that Billie Eilish is an evil person.

But, calling this collection sustainable without giving customers clear indicators of why, is greenwashing.

It is not just H&M. The Independent, New York Post, Fox Business, and WWD, all called the collection “sustainable.”

H&M greenwashing

The problem: none of these publications investigated the sustainability claim for themselves.

Even worse, they were aware of the issue and didn’t address it.

The New York Post states, “items in the line are designed from materials sourced more sustainably.”

Yet, there’s no explanation of what “more sustainable” means.

Buzzwords such as “sustainable” may sound trustworthy and comfortable, but they’re vague.

If “sustainable” is not further articulated, it doesn’t hold any weight.

“It’s all made from sustainable materials,” states Teen Vogue, a “fact” which should have been checked before they published it.

In fact, only two of 16 items in the collection have sustainably sourced materials.

In comparison, the other 14 items are made just like any fast-fashion piece: with planned obsolescence and by non-transparent means.

A Closer Look at H&M and Billie Eilish Collection

H&M greenwashing

The H&M and Billie Eilish 16-piece collection consist of two “conscious” pieces: a pair of joggers and a t-shirt.

Regarding these two pieces, H&M notes that the cotton content is, in fact, organic, period.

That is the only information you’ll find on the product pages about how they are sustainable, and this is disappointing.

One would think putting a buzzword such as “sustainable” in the spotlight would mean no loose ends to get tied up in.

Even if we give H&M the benefit of the doubt and assume the two Conscious pieces are sustainably made, does having 12.5 per cent sustainable of your entire collection gives you the right to call it a “sustainable collection drop”?

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Even a simple majority is at least over 50 per cent.

When we research and evaluate sustainable brands, the threshold for calling a brand sustainable is for at least 50 per cent (a simple majority) of their collections to be sustainably made.

Most of our approved brands even go the extra mile, making 100% of their pieces with eco-friendly fabrics.

We’re transparent about all of this information, too.

This is because we give our consumers credit, and they can hold us accountable for our words.

So, H&M, if you’re going to boast about your sustainability, why not put your money where your mouth is?

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    Danique Snel

    3 August 2020

    Great article, it’s ridiculous how fast fashion brands just throw the word ‘sustainable’ around.