We know who’s already sold out: PETA. According to PETA, this vegan collection in collaboration with H&M celebrates the harmonious coexistence of humans and other animals on this planet and the future of fashion. So, PETA, you care about animals but not the humans who make those clothes? Being an ethical company includes being transparent about your supply chain and workers wages and treatment. H&M is NOT that company. The whole PETA x H&M is Vegan capitalism.
And as an example of vegan capitalism the following. At first, when I saw the announcement and press statement, I got to thinking that H&M had only used vegan and sustainable fabrics like FLWRDWN, a material created with natural wildflowers, ECONYL, a regenerated nylon created from salvaged trash, like discarded fishing nets and VEGEA which is made from grape skins.
Unfortunately, as soon as I went to the website and clicked on the collection, I saw that almost all the products from this vegan collection in collaboration with PETA contained basically synthetic materials. I wish I had been wrong. However, I was not surprised. It looks much nicer to write down vegan leather instead of polyurethane (plastic) and polyester (also plastic).
Is Vegan Fashion Always the More Sustainable Option?
Vegan doesn’t always mean sustainable or ethical which is a shame as I believe that veganism goes beyond using or not using leather in certain products. We have seen in previous posts how brands and influencers are using the term veganism as a marketing tool to deceive the consumer. And this collaboration between H&M and PETA is the most hypocritical thing I’ve seen in a very long time. PETA partnering with fast fashion brands shows everyone that they are happy to overlook worker exploitation and waste.
Brands like H&M have been accused of destroying new and unsold clothes since 2013 because there’s a push to constantly put new merchandise out on the market. Has H&M started reducing the amount of collections they launch weekly? As far as we know, they have not and it is not even on the table.
Is H&M going to stop using animal-derived materials (like leather, down, wool or silk) from now on? SPOILER: Of course not! The impact of leather is mind-blowing. It’s a fact that factory farming has a huge impact on the planet and leather shares responsibility for all the environmental destruction caused by the meat industry as well as the pollution caused by the toxins used in tanning. But, how sustainable is a vegan collection from a fast fashion brand that uses virgin plastic to justify that these garments are animal and environmentally friendly?
Are polyester fabrics or polyurethane leather more sustainable than leather?
H&M x PETA uses phrases like vegan and plant-based as synonyms for environmentally friendly and ethical and this is far from being true. Some vegan leather is made from plant-based materials, while others are created from artificial products but… can a brand be sustainable by using virgin plastics? It doesn’t sound good to me. Especially when plastic is still an issue, no matter how we look at it.
PETA defends itself against the criticism by stating that:
Can a brand be sustainable by using virgin plastics?
If so, if what PETA says is true, where can we see these sources on which they base their claim that plastic is more sustainable than leather? The Environmental Profit & Loss, a sustainability report developed in 2018 by Kering, agrees with PETA’s claim, stating that the impact of vegan-leather production that’s polyurethane-based can be up to a third lower than real leather.
However, as an animal rights organisation, PETA focuses on ending the suffering and exploitation of animals, but why are they ignoring the fact that pretty much every single animal on the planet now contains microplastics? As crazy as this can sound, these microfibres come from polyester clothing! How can that be good for the planet?
Plastics never go away. Plastic is based on a fossil material that won’t ever biodegrade, it will simply break down into smaller and smaller pieces – aka microplastic -, and the difficulties of recycling plastic is a big reason why the world is littered with so much plastic waste.
If it’s not Ethical it’s also NOT Vegan
Veganism is more than just a ‘plant-based diet’. This H&M’s First PETA-approved 100% vegan collection uses phrases like vegan and plant based as synonyms for ethical and environmentally friendly when this fast fashion brand is notorious for its exploitation of garment workers and considering that, to be H&M truly sustainable, they have to do much more than using recycled plastic in some of their garments. This collection, this H&M x PETA is just another Greenwashing campaign. Please, don’t let this H&M collaboration fool you:
- Do you know that there is no evidence to suggest that a single H&M garment worker is making a fair living wage?
- Do you really want to support a brand that uses the pandemic to squeeze factory workers in production countries even more?
- As much as your favourite influencers are constantly shopping at H&M, do you want to support a company that cancelled their orders and decided not to pay their workers during the pandemic?
- Did you know that H&M only agreed to pay its garment workers because of social pressure?
- In addition to the above, H&M cannot also assure an end and prevent gender-based violence and harassment in their supply chain, and so on.
As Venetia La Manna said:
Just because fashion is “vegan” does not mean it isn’t exploitative. H&M continuously harm their garment makers, while at the same time are killing our planet with their entirely unsustainable output. PETA, this is #greenwashing
This new collaboration has certainly sparked some interesting conversations. I would love to know your thoughts about this H&M x PETA partnership. Do you think PETA could have collaborated with other vegan brands with more pure values? If you know of any, let me know in the comments!