I recently wrote about the documentary that made me think about my fashion shopping habits and wanted to delve a bit deeper into what makes a fashion brand ethical before we go into investigating some of our favourite brands on the high street – let’s set the scene!
Having a company ethos is all well and good, but if you’re not practicing what you preach, your company isn’t worth shit. Companies need to be doing more than just assuming the factories they purchase their fabrics from and where their garments are made are sourcing their raw materials in an ethical way and treating their workers like human beings.
There are four key factors I believe we need to measure how ethical a fashion brand is;
- How they treat the environment when sourcing their raw materials e.g. cotton, silk. And how the factories that make the materials treat the environment around them
- How the factories that make the garments treat their workers
- How animals are treated in the production of their clothing
- How they dispose of their waste
Each factor I’ve listed above will be how I mark a fashion brand on how ethical they are and I’ve gone into a bit more detail for each point below;
How they treat the environment when sourcing their raw materials e.g. cotton, silk. And how the factories that make the materials treat the environment around them
This point is all about the use of pesticides on the crops farmers sow and how that impacts the surrounding environments. It’s also about how the factories that spin the threads and dye/treat the fabrics, dispose of the leftover dyes and how the fumes impact their surrounding environments.
How the factories that make the garments treat their workers
This factor is something I feel very passionately about – human life is sacred and some of the horrific scenes we have seen over the last few years of how some of the factory workers have been treated makes my heart drop. To make this easier, I’ve made a short list of specific points we need to consider;
- The conditions of the factories that people are working in; buildings are structurally sound, the workers aren’t working endless shifts without breaks, fumes aren’t causing health issues, the factories aren’t overcrowded
- Safe working conditions
- The pay of the workers needs to enable them to live comfortably – a living wage
- NO CHILD LABOUR!
How animals are treated in the production of their clothing
This point kind of ties in with the first in that we don’t want any animals harmed during the harvesting of raw materials. We also don’t want any real fur.
How they dispose of their waste
Waste disposal is a huge issue – with the amount of synthetic fabrics we’re now using, disposing of old clothing isn’t as easy as just donating it to a charity – a lot of it goes to waste and ends up in landfill ruining the environment. We need to know whether they’re binning it in our oceans, selling it on to discount stores to be sold or disposing in another more ethical way.
I’m going to start off with our high street favourites in this series of posts and will be aiming to have a post up each Monday (I can’t guarantee that but will be trying!); next week will be the infamous Primark, but let me know in the comments below if you’ve got any stores you’d like me to investigate specifically.
I might not be able to find too much sometimes and don’t know where this series is going to go, but I’m excited to get my teeth into it!