The Natural Environment as a Stakeholder and the Legitimacy of Corporate Sustainability

4Ocean is a business that sells primarily sneakers and bracelets made from recycled material. Additionally, 4Ocean employs full-time crews that are tasked with recovering harmful waste and pollution. For every purchase of a 4Ocean product, the business promises to remove a pound of waste from the Ocean. How can we verify 4Ocean’s integrity? The 4Ocean Trash Tracker on the homepage of their website tracks the amount of pounds the company has pulled from the ocean. 4Ocean is also a Certified B Corp, meaning that the company meets the certifications of verified performance, accountability, and transparency to their employees and customers.

H&M is one of the largest global fast fashion companies in the fashion industry. In the past few years, H&M has released plans regarding the transformation of the company into a more sustainable business. These plans included reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions from their manufacturing process along with the entirety of their attire products being made out of 100% recycled materials by 2030. H&M first released its conscious line, consisting of clothes made out of recycled material, in 2010. However, twelve years later, their conscious line is still only a segment of the very large selection of clothes they advertise. The greenwashing that H&M perpetrates can be seen by the price difference between its conscious and non-conscious apparel. Additionally, H&M has previously released conscious merchandise and clothing lines that were claimed to be 100% sustainable with no evidence backing it up. Moreover, H&M exemplifies how large corporations use the notion of the environment as a stakeholder to further its revenue. In reality, the customers remain the stakeholders, and the company uses the shared value of sustainability to further its objectives. 

In the future, I believe that the debate over real/legitimate approaches to sustainability versus greenwashing will become more apparent as these greenwashing companies fail to meet their promised sustainability goals. If by the year 2030 H&M has no evidence of accomplishing its goals to reduce its greenhouse emissions and increase recycled clothing, the topics of greenwashing, sustainability, and deceitfulness could magnify by extensive measures.