Greenwashing the problem away
Everything5pounds is pushing a message of sustainability, but their website makes no mention of circular economies, deadstock or even sustainable fashion.
They’ve been trading since 2010, and they’ve never marketed themselves as a “green” alternative to fast fashion until now. There’s clearly no efforts to educate their customers on what deadstock is, or why the overproduction of garments is such a huge issue for the environment.
So what gives?
“We did a slow shopping guide in the summer about made to order - ensuring we never make a single thing that goes to waste,” says London sustainable clothing brand Birdsong. Recycling deadstock is just a small part of plugging the ever-growing gap of overproduction.
“We never have over-stock, as people have to be really sure that they want their garment and are willing to wait a couple of weeks for it. But the feedback from customers has been that because of our production model, people appreciate and treasure their items more. Selling "deadstock" that's the result of someone else's overproduction, unless it was made decades ago, is a very tenuous way to claim sustainability.”
But fast fashion brands are feeling the heat, and they’re looking for ways to boost their sustainability credentials to appeal to a new more eco-conscious market.
Like many industries, fashion has found a simple way to deal with its waste without needing to tackle the root cause.
The product of a broken industry
Encouraging consumers to buy more for less is unsustainable. Garment workers are often paid for each garment they make, rather than receiving a salary. Brands crank up targets every month, encouraging workers to over-produce as much clothing as possible for less and less money.
Although Everything5pounds is putting these clothes back into the circular economy, selling cheap clothing made with fossil fuel intensive materials for £5 is giving brands an excuse to keep over producing. The problem is, consumers are more likely to bin cheap clothing if they think it was always destined for landfill.
Deadstock may be marketed as “leftovers”, but really, it’s just another pile of available stock to be sold. One could argue brands could be tempted to even overproduce clothing to maintain the monopoly of garment factories producing each item as cheaply as possible, to later sell as “deadstock” to companies just like Everything5pounds.
This isn’t an accident, it’s a calculated part of a broken system.
Deadstock isn’t a serendipitous low cost alternative to high-street shopping, it’s a symptom of a bloated garment industry, where as always - it’s workers and the planet who are paying the true price.
Whether they know it or not, Everything5pounds is just another outlet to greenwash the industry.