June Blog Post 'Fair Trade & Green Washing' in the Fashion Industry


But is it really Ethical?

In a business where everyone is trying to stay on top, how to discern real sustainable production from 'green washed' sustainability 

Fair Trade, Sustainable Production, Fair Wage, Enviromental Exploitation, Anti-Sweatshops, etc. are terms thrown around in the modern day fashion discourse. But what does it all really mean and why do we promote it?
 

Fair Trade
You’ve probably seen this little logo on your food items and other small-production items, it signifies Fair Trade Certification by the FAIRTRADE Organization.
 
FAIRTRADE Canada seeks to end the exploitation of workers who are underpaid and over worked, while corporation owners here, make a profit on their exploitation & surplus labour.

Many companies out-source & off-shore their manufacturing and production to countries outside of the Global North who don’t not have strict environmental or labour laws.
 
This is why our groceries, clothing and other products stay CHEAP!
 
But if the Global North is home to some of the wealthiest people in the world, why do they not pay living wages? or practice sustainable production when they do not have to worry where their next meal comes from or how they will feed and clothe their family?
 
Well they didn’t make billions by doing it ethically.
 
So how is it possible to be sustainable and produce & sell Fair Trade products and still make a living?
 
Running a Fair Trade business is both super possible & super fulfilling! Human & Environment centered production design and business models makes life a little better for everyone! Not to mention the growing popularity of customers seeking Fair Trade products! It's changing the mentality from buying for the short-term to buying for long-term use.
 
But even FAIRTRADE has its flaws in the cruel world of global production. FairTrade International & FairTrade US have been accused of being too lenient with their standards since FairTrade gaining popularity. Starbucks for example, has taken a monopoly on FairTrade coffee and it has created an exclusionary & competitive market for local farmers in coffee producing communities, and often times the poorest farms can’t compete. Its very important to do individual research before buying into the FAIR TRADE label.

Here at Adorit we ensure real sustainability by connecting with the amazing owners and teams of the companies we work with! All of the brands we sell have full transparency of their production practices and where they get their textiles from.

What if it doesn’t have the logo/or exact FAIRTRADE certification?


Don’t worry! Products can still be Fair Trade in principal!
 
Like we talked about in our last newsletter, the FairTrade principle fights against the exploitation of labour and raw materials that are necessary for a Capitalist system to thrive. Some ways Fair Trade productions is trying to stop this and close in Global Inequality gap is:
  1. ensuring fair prices & wages are being paid to the producers (real market values)
  2. making sure the earth isn’t being exploited
  3. applying North American labour & environmental standards even in off-shored production
  4. using sustainable levels of harvest & production (so there is enough for future generations)
  5. protecting the well-being of women, children & animals
Green Washing
 
As wonderful as it is that Fair Trade and Ethical & Sustainable production is gaining popularity, as people are becoming more aware of the unfair and horrendous practices in modern manufacturing & labour, we run into the issues of fraudulent advertisement!

Key words like: GREEN, CLEAN, ORGANIC, SUSTAINABLE, HAND-MADE and even FAIR TRADE; are thrown into advertising campaigns, but in reality it is a ploy to try and brand their company as ethical. This might include, getting rid of certain chemicals but then still using unsafe factory work, and underpaying workers. This is an unfortunate reality of the harsh business practices, that put profit above human & environmental well being. As a consumer you can be diligent in doing your research and asking questions about labour practices, looking for real certifications and learning how companies may be deceptive or Green Washing their business.

The website Good on You, provides a great example below about an oil production company using subtle green washing (Oil is the number one GHG producing industry in the world):
 
H&M 'Conscious' Campaign 

A really popular campaign has been started at H&M about a ‘conscious’ line that is ‘more sustainable’. By using punchy words like conscious & sustainable, consumer’s can feel a little less bad about shopping there, right? Well there’s a few things to consider….

While they might offer a conscious line, what about the rest of their lines that are not labelled sustainable? The company is still making billions off exploited labour and environmental waste.

The second thing to consider, is while H&M is making it a goal to only use recycled or sustainable fabrics by 2030. That’s still 10 years of adding to the extremely detrimental environmental destruction caused by fast-fashion (as well as breaking human rights labour practices).

It's hard to tell at this point, whether H&M is really striving for an ethical & sustainable business model or if it is just a ploy to attract the growing  'environmentally conscious' consumer base.
KNOW HOW

Some examples and things to watch out for with ‘Green Washing’ from the website Good on You include:
1. Recycled & Minimal Packaging is NOT enough
2. ‘Energy efficiency’ that’s actually just the law
3. Big claims followed by fine print, making targets look bigger than they are
 
You can read more about the different ways companies can Green Wash here: https://goodonyou.eco/how-can-you-tell-when-a-fashion-brand-is-greenwashing/
 
This website also has a rating system where you can read about how sustainably brands rank, the list includes H&M, Old Navy & Vans: https://goodonyou.eco/category/rated/

Often times people are discouraged or don’t see the possibility for change in the way we produce our clothing, but REAL change is happening, and there is a great amount of power in choosing to buy ethically & sustainably made products. You are helping the environment, and providing the means for workers in other countries to have financial security, to feed and clothe their families and create long-lasting, generational businesses in their communities. As well as supporting locally. As we learn to value our belongings, and to put more thought into our consumpion patterns, we will see greener days and more contentment in our lives.

PLAYBAG

Their products reflect a profound commitment to craftsmanship and timeless design. The company's beautiful handcrafted accessories  are made from locally sourced materials in the Czech Republic. 

PLAYBAG shares the belief of making long lasting, handmade products with great attention to detail. With PLAYBAGS's wallets and bags you will certainly feel the craftsmanship and love that has gone into each and every  piece

Hot Dame

A company known for its collaboration with Local Canadian Artists, through the use of turning prints into one-of-a-kind pieces for both women and girls. The company is proudly made all in Alberta and has the vision of producing everyday staples by mixing comfort and bold fashion.

Open Fire 

Beautiful, hand-crafted jewellery made right here in Ottawa by the ever-talented Fran Miles. Each pair of earrings made with semi-precious stones is adorned with a note on the back that tells you about the stones energy. 
Shop Now

Remeber to also...
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!

 


Often clothes donated to “charity” still end up in the land fill due to an over flow of donations, or are shipped off to the Global South and share a similar fate. Some great ways to extend the life of your clothing is to:
  1. take care of your clothing & value them           
  2. buy quality made items
  3. sell to second-hand stores (Plato’s Closet is an awesome one right here in Ottawa!)
  4. sell on Facebook market place (or any other Buy & Sell Groups)
  5. participate in clothing swaps!
  6. Find other non-wear uses for you old clothing…jean tote bags anyone ??
Sustainable lifestyles are on the rise and its so wonderful to see more and more people engaged and making changes to their own consumption patterns! Every little choice to be more green, pays off in the long run! 

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