This tee is organic, Fair Wear and donates to eco/animal charities
We have all heard of Fair Trade, used more for tea, coffee and chocolate. Most big chains subscribe to the Ethical Trading Initiative (which is a bit like ‘sustainable palm oil’). It has good intentions, but little legal clout, other than ensuring no child labour. The UN says that companies that employ younger people with good conditions and pay, are often better than those who offer terrible conditions, but ban child labour. This is because some families depend on children working to feed the family. And if children can’t visit school, working in ethical places where they are treated well, can sometimes be a way to claw themselves out of poverty.
It’s not a simple answer. When India prevented all child labour, families needing money turned to informal child employment, which meant worse conditions. So look at companies that ensure proper working conditions/pay and no child labour. Most of the big companies say ‘no child labour’, but don’t pay a living wage.
What’s far better is to look for Fair Wear (much stricter rules from farmer to store) and B-Corporation (a far more stringent organisation for ethics that no high street chain would pass its rules to enter).
Good On You is a good website to bookmark, if you are out and about on the high street. Just look up any brand and it gives you a lowdown on the company’s ethics. This covers Fair Trade, animal welfare, environment etc. Try typing in ‘People Tree’ and ‘Primark’, then read the difference. What’s surprising is that one of the worst is Next, which is not the cheapest. It’s not an ‘ethical brand’, but if you are looking for the best high street choice, Marks & Spencer presently comes out top (avoid animal fabrics, buy goods to last and scour the rack for sale bargains).