Cruelty free fashion falls under the ethical side of sustainable fashion, but that doesn’t mean by default that cruelty free is sustainable.
I kind of sound like a broken record writing about how ethical, eco-friendly, fair-trade and now cruelty free fashion are all sub-categories of sustainable fashion, but it does not make them sustainable by default
All are important steps in their own regard, but the use of these terms interchangeably with each other is diminishing their power and importance.
Cruelty Free Fashion Is Vaguely Defined
As many of you already know, I am pretty big into Pinterest. Almost all of my boards fall around the different categories of sustainability. Something interesting happened the other day: A post I wrote on eco fashion ended up on someone’s “Cruelty Free” board.
Don’t get me wrong. I love it when people pin my posts to their boards, and I’m not going to tell someone not to do something simply over the meaning of different words. I could not let this pin go when I realized how ubiquitous the words cruelty free and sustainability has become.
There needs to be a change, and it starts with understanding.
Cruelty Free Fashion is a vaguely defined word. There is no regulation on the use of the word. If someone said a pair of gluten free jeans was LEED certified, the LEED certification would have a lawsuit on their hands, and they’d likely win. Though if someone says something is “sustainable” or “cruelty free” it’s not always the case.
Cruelty Free Fashion is not Eco-Friendly by default
When it comes to cruelty free fashion, it falls more on the side of Ethical Fashion and not always Eco Fashion. If a product is made from new plastic, it’s not eco-friendly, but can be considered Cruelty Free. This misconception is a problem in the understanding of sustainability and marketing.
The result is a ton of articles and pins that are mixing up terms, relaying false information, and generating mistrust for the entire industry.
Cruelty free focuses more on the welfare and ethics of animal rights. Sometimes it includes the rights of workers and distributors, but that usually involves another certification.
For example, I did a quick search for “Cruelty free fashion” and was rewarded with these mess of products. As you can see some are either outrageously expensive or way too cheap to validate fair wages in the making of the product. You’d be better off searching for more sustainable brands and skip the cruelty free label.
Many People Still Don’t Understand Sustainability, Let Alone Cruelty Free Fashion
With the blogging boom over the past decade, there has been a surge in eco-ethical blogs. One one hand, I think this is amazing! So many people are now into being sustainable consumers but at a cost. Many sustainability “experts” don’t know what they’re talking about and many actual sustainability professionals are way too busy to blog.
Terms like Cruelty Free Fashion may hit well on SEO or Pinterest, but the quality of content for those articles is not usually correct. It is going to take some time, patience, and more experts in the field to sort out the SEO dilemma that is fueling the misinformation across the web.
Some transitions are inevitable, and this will be one of them. If you want to be on the good side of history, I suggest you become an actual expert in something. That’s where listening to real experts and producing quality research.
If you’re into producing real sustainable fashion businesses, or just sustainable businesses in general, check out the free business resource below. Some e-learning courses are coming soon, but I’ll keep you updated.