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Greenwashing guilt: why sustainability should not be a luxury

Find out why many luxury brands engage in greenwashing: making diverting sustainability claims to cover a questionable environmental record.

4 min read

An overwhelming number of luxury goods companies are not sustainable at their core. Even though sustainability, transparency and responsibility are now hugely important to most conscious consumers, a lot of luxury brands are still not moved to incorporate this ethos into their work.

Worse still, most of them are actively deceptive about their social and environmental efforts. They engage in what is known as greenwashing: making diverting sustainability claims to cover a questionable environmental record.

‘It all comes out in the green wash’

In an essay in 1986, the term greenwashing was coined by environmentalist Jay Westerveld. Greenwashing is an age-old practice by corporations and brands, where they present some element of their work as being sustainable or ethical to distract from the murkier truth.

As consumers have grown savvier over time, this misdirection has had to become even more sophisticated and complex to deceive a discerning modern audience. Brands and businesses have caught on that consumers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable and eco-friendly products. From donations to charity to vague labels like ‘organic’ and ‘fair’, businesses have been able to appear planet-positive and sustainable on the surface to avoid doing any deeper work.


Sustainability and Luxury

“If I asked you to picture the consumer luxury market, you might imagine jewels, sports cars, watches, premium drinks, high-end shoes and apparel, and so on. A combination of high quality, glamour, celebrity, and attitude. With a few exceptions, it’s been an industry not traditionally associated with concerns about environmental impacts, human rights, and wellness, even while those trends have been sweeping through the mainstream consumer products sector.” – Andrew Winston, Harvard Business Review

With their emphasis on opulence, exclusivity and an eye-watering price tag, it may come as no surprise that luxury goods companies are notorious for greenwashing. From dangerous mining methods to underpaid workers, their processes and supply chain are often shrouded in mystery – and for good reason.

The Fashion Transparency Index 2021 stated that brands in the fashion industry gained a transparency score of an appalling 23% covering their sustainable practices, including carbon emissions, textile waste and fair pay for workers.


CRANBOURN® – luxurious transparency

We started CRANBOURN® with a firm and unwavering idea in mind: to create a luxury fragrance company that would operate differently from other luxury goods companies. We decided we would never simply pay lip service to social and environmental considerations – and so our unique approach and philosophy, #AnotherWay, was born.

Our mission here at CRANBOURN® is to help our customers buy luxury fragrance and wellbeing products more sustainably, giving them freedom of choice and the ability to be a conscious consumers. We are guided by our firm belief that companies have a moral duty to encourage positive social and environmental change – with absolutely no greenwashing in sight.

We value transparency and want our policies to consistently be more than just label-deep. Our products carry certifications with Leaping Bunny, The Vegetarian Society and the FSC, and we are part of the B Corp movement. CRANBOURN® products undergo regular independent assessments and audits, ensuring they meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.

Find out more about the CRANBOURN® sustainable luxury mission here.

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