In recent years, there has been much discussion about ethics in various industries. Every sector, from energy production to consumer electronics to the hospitality industry, is now wrestling with the idea that ethics are not just a business obstacle; they may be critical to long term success.
In the past, ethics was almost regarded as an ugly word. A business that played by the rules, or who adhered to a higher standard was regarded as a business that would fall behind competitors that weren’t concerned with morality, doing the right thing, or even telling the truth to customers. Today, however, the market has changed, and so has consumer awareness. Ethical fashion, for example, is very much a watchword, but this means becoming familiar with certain certification standards. Here are a few you should know about.
The term “fair trade” has different, specific metrics as measured by different organizations, but the basic principle behind fair trade certification is the same. When something is certified as fair trade, this means that the market value of the raw materials used in the creation of the product has been paid for at—or even above—what is considered fair market rates, to ensure that everyone can be properly paid for their labor.
This also means that the labor itself is ethical, and treats workers fairly, without abuse, indentured servitude, or other practices that are closer to exploitation and slavery rather than fair treatment. Look for certifications that say “Fair Trade Certified,” or other standards, such as the Ethical Trading Initiative,
The practice of sustainable production takes a long haul view of production methods and uses production strategies designed to minimize waste and, more importantly, prevent permanent, negative, unrecoverable impacts on the environment. So, for example, rather than using synthetic fabrics that might require petroleum, the ethical use of cotton or hemp in carefully cultivated fields that don’t burn down forests to make way for arable land, is one example of sustainable practices.
B Corporation is one certification you should keep an eye out for if you’re looking to attract sustainable shoppers. The B Corporation certification is all about environmental practices that are backed up with legal accountability to go to court for failure to comply. Any product with B Certification is one that’s passed some rigorous sustainable standards.
Once again, there are different certification standards, but in general, the organic concept means that a minimum of pesticides and other harmful growth practices were used in raising crops. This not only means that the no herbicides, pesticides, or corporate manufactured GMOs are used in clothing that requires plant fiber, it also means that there’s no contamination from these chemicals that adheres to the materials during the production process.
Different organic certifications exist, such as a Cradle 2 Cradle that evaluates “health” of a garment’s material, or bluesign, that looks at the environmental footprint of material and what air emissions were involved in its manufacturing process.
If you’d like to know more about ethical fashion and the kinds of certification standards you should look out for when adding these products to your inventory, contact The Etho and let us help.