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CMA tackles fashion industry “Green Washing” claims

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has today (29 July 2022) announced that it will investigate sustainability claims about fashion products sold by ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda.

What is green washing?

When a company professes to be environmentally conscious for marketing purposes but actually can’t back up their claims and is not making efforts to be sustainable is considered greenwashing. This is a mis-leading marketing tactic that works by appealing to consumers wanting to shop in an environmentally sound way.

Woman being served by woman showing dress

The Complaining Cow thoughts on greenwashing

Consumers who want to shop in an eco-friendly and sustainable way believe that they are doing the right thing and making responsible purchases. If companies are mis-leading consumers it will damage the whole sector through undermining consumer confidence as well as damaging the environment.

Consumers thoughts on greenwashing

Consumers also welcome moves to tackle greenwashing. For example, Hayley Merrick The Womb Wise Woman, coach supporting entrepreneurs to nurture themselves by connecting to the cycles of nature says “More needs to be done to protect consumers in regards to marketing, claims and awareness of what it takes to be an eco-conscious brand.”

Environmental friendly businesses thoughts on greenwashing

Kerry Clayton runs Trend Tonic, a sustainable jewellery brand, and regularly writes about green washing. She comments “Recent years have seen consumers more environmentally-conscious about their purchases. Marketing products as ’green’ is a way for companies to jump on the trend, without actually changing most (if any) of their business practices”.

On her website, a sustainable baby clothes company, Bibevie, Rhian Thompson puts the details of all the choices she has made (and including “problem areas”), so that customers can make an informed choice on their purchase. She says “Sustainability means different things to different people, nothing is 100% perfectly sustainable in every way, so by giving people information, they can make a choice in line with their own set of principles.”

Anna Cargan owns Build a Bundle, an online second hand kids clothes shop. She points out that the most sustainable item is one that already exists! Although she recognises that we all need to buy brand new items sometimes, she would “love to see a world where people look for second-hand as their first option and only buy new if they can’t find something to reuse”, adding “And let’s not pretend that fast fashion companies are in the slightest bit green!”

The CMA ongoing investigation and guidance

The problem is wider than the 3 stores to which the CMA has written about its concerns. The CMA has an ongoing investigation into potential greenwashing launched in November 2020 and published its Green Claims Code in September 2021. This aims to help businesses understand how to communicate their green credentials without risking misleading consumers.

The fast fashion industry currently produces over 92 million tons of waste per year. The environmental impacts are colossal; the industry is responsible for 10% of the global carbon emissions, with that number set to almost triple to 26% by 2050.

What can consumers do to ensure they are shopping in an environmentally friendly way?

Delve into the claims, ask questions, look for detail where the fabric came from, how it was made and whether the workers were paid a fair price.

CMA further action against companies making false sustainability claims

Sarah Cardell, interim Chief Executive of the CMA, says: “Should we find these companies are using misleading eco claims, we won’t hesitate to take enforcement action – through the courts if necessary.”

Further information on shopping/environmental issues

Is a penny on a garment enough to tackle environmental issues?  MPs called for there to be a penny added to every item of clothing to fund a £35m annual recycling scheme. 19/02/19.

Fast and Cheap Fashion – Who pays the Price? – guest post by Simon Birch from Ethical Consumer regarding a new report claims that those at the forefront of unsustainable fashion have broken lockdown rules and put lives at risk. 03/08/20

How to shop ethically especially this Christmas Emma Oddie from Ethical Consumer shares ideas for shopping and supporting independent businesses. 25/11/20.

How can individuals & small companies compete in the fashion sustainability marketplace? Lora Nikolaeva of Lora GENE explores what needs to be done to help the sector. 02/11/21.

Earth Day – making a difference with your shopping habits Consumers share their ideas for shopping in a sustainable way whilst still trying to pay the bills. 22/04/22.

10 Tips for saving money on food – Stop Food Waste day Kate Hall a food waste expert provides tips on reducing waste and saving money.  27/04/22.

Helen Dewdney talks to Kate Hall food waste expert Kate talks to me for The Complaining Cow Consumer Show on East London Radio about food waste and how you can use your freezer to reduce waste. 19/06/22.



Latest News ways to save money

Streaming services: How to cut subscriptions and save money?

Hand on remote pointing at TV with the word Netflix on itTelevision streaming services were many people’s saviour through the pandemic lockdowns. They felt like essentials, as many of us binge watched numerous series and films, subscriptions rose by more than 50% to a total 30 million subscribers across the UK.

However, with the current cost of living crisis and many subscription prices rising, some people are now cancelling, or considering cancelling, their subscriptions. But before you do it, check out these ways that could help you reduce the cost.

10 Top ways to save on streaming service subscriptions

  • Rotate streaming services

If you have more than one service, look at rotating them. Plan your viewing. If there’s something that you definitely want to see on Netflix, for example, subscribe for a month, then the following month subscribe to a different service.

  • Check the free streaming  services

Look at how often you watch something on one of the streaming services out of habit.. ITV Hub, BBC iPlayer, and all the catch up terrestrial channels often have programmes that can also be found on the streaming sites.

  • Threaten to leave!

Just like broadband providers, some pay TV companies will give you a more favourable offer if you suggest you are going to leave. About a month before your subscription runs out, start the process for leaving. And don’t accept the first offer!

  • Cashback sites

Checkout cashback sites, such as Topcashback* and Quidco* may give you special deals. For example, at the point of publishing (26 July 2022) Topcashback will give you £10.00 for taking out a Disney+ subscription.

  • Pay annually

Like most things, paying annually rather than monthly will save you money. For example, an annual subscription on Amazon will save you about £15 over the year. This is not a huge amount but it is the equivalent of getting two months free.

  • Remember to cancel!

It’s easy to forget to cancel a subscription. Make a note of the renewal date and keep a record of just how much you used the service, so you can work out whether you want to renew, threaten to leave or actually leave.

  • Use apps

Apps such as JustWatch, Reelgood and WatchPlayStream tell you on which platform you can watch programmes (legally!) and for how much. Keep a record of this as you go along and you’ll see how you can save money which may help you decide which service would be best for you.

  • Downgrade your subscription

A number of the streaming services have different levels, so look at whether you need all the benefits of the higher amount. For example, do you need Amazon Prime for deliveries? You could just use Amazon videos perhaps?  With a Netflix subscription, might you want to downgrade from four devices to just the one?

  • Take an offer

Are you looking to take out a new phone contract? At the point of publishing Vodafone is offering up to two years free streaming with some phone deals. EE offers a Netflix subscription for new and upgrading Smart Plan customers and T Mobile offers customers a free Netflix subscription.

  • Get a free subscription trial

Always be on the look-out for a free trial. If you know there’s one series or programme coming up that you would really like to see, then plan when to take out the free trial. And again, don’t forget to make a note of when to cancel!

BBC Breakfast 26/07/22 saving on streaming services

Further help with subscriptions and terms and conditions

top 10 tips for savings on subscriptions with picture of contract


See Think before you sign – top 10 tips to save on subscriptions for how to save money on subscriptions, how to avoid the traps and details of your rights if you want to cancel regardless of terms and conditions.


*Refer a friend links