Zalando Receives First Greenwashing Award

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The Norwegian Consumers’ Association presented its first Greenwashing Award this year, to online retailer Zalando. The reason? Sustainability filters on the provider’s website, which according to the jury “obscure the ecological challenges of the fashion industry”.

Zalando was selected from a list of four companies (KappAhl, Booking.com and Kicks), which in turn were selected from more than 40 nominated companies for the “award”. All four are accused of greenwashing products and services through environmentally friendly filters in their online shops.

With the award, the jury wants to draw attention to the use of the word “sustainability” and this type of filter that consumers will increasingly be confronted with in the future.

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Misleading Filters
“By marketing clothing under the term “sustainability”, Zalando gives the impression that we can buy our way out of ecological challenges. Strict requirements must be placed on the use of the word “sustainable” for a product category with a high environmental impact and documented challenges with, for example, social conditions,” demands the jury.

Gunstein Instefjord, jury member and head of consumer policy at the association, believes that Zalando’s misleading filter and widespread use of the term “sustainability” help to obscure the environmental challenge posed by the consumption of clothing.

“Far too much clothing is both bought and produced, and clothing production accounts for a significant part of global climate emissions. If you, as a consumer, want to buy the most sustainable sweater at Zalando, it is paradoxical that the more sustainability goals you filter, the more products appear as alternatives. Obviously it should be the other way around,” says Instefjord.

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The association welcomes the idea of ​​a filter that helps consumers make environmentally friendly choices. However, it is important to focus on misleading cases of the sorting function. That’s why the other companies mentioned are not off the hook either: a complaint about misleading advertising is to be filed with the Norwegian consumer protection authority.

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After receiving news of the Greenwashing Awards ceremony, Zalando announced that it intends to remove the filter related to the Higg Index , which was introduced in 2019. It should be replaced with information about a product’s specific sustainability characteristics, such as organic materials, recycled materials, natural ingredients and the like, according to Zalando.

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