I'm sure you're wondering, "Hey, Melissa, what does fashion have to do with keeping our planet green?" Well, amigx... everything! For example, did you know leather-making can take up to 16,000 litres of water to produce just 1 kg of it? Or that China supplies 90% of the world's angoras - that's more than 50 million Angora bunnies! Don't even get me started on how many countries are at 'extreme risk' in the Forced Labour Index - about 49 countries where regulations are either poor or just don't exist!
The fact of the matter is that most of our fashion is low quality and has a high turnover. This means unsafe workplaces (including human right violations - like child labour), chemical pollutions, HUGE carbon and water use footprints, and more. So what can we do?
Easy - be better consumers. But it's hard to do that when you don't know what you're looking for! Here are some certifications and standards eco-labels that are credible usually have...
Does your garment have the FAIRTRADE mark? If so, score! That means it has met the Fairtrade standards and principles that aim to avoid child/forced labour and discrimination, promote good working conditions (such as good pay), and have a good relationship with the environment.
ETHICAL CLOTHING AUSTRALIA (ECA)
Aussies this one's for you- an ECA accreditation means their production complies with labour laws! This is specific for textile, clothing, and footwear industry workers, including home workers. Hooray for annual independent audits, amirite?
GLOBAL ORGANIC TEXTILE STANDARD (GOTS)
Do you GOTS this label on your item? It's one of the most recognised organic standards for textiles- globally! They have a high environmental criteria and complies with social criteria as well - meaning the process is fully traceable and there are various, annual inspections across their supply chain. Win!
SUSTAINABLE TEXTILE PRODUCTION (STEP)
STeP is one of my favourite standards because of how much it covers throughout their supply chain: acceptable working conditions, chemical management, health and safety policies, high standard of environmental management, efficiently using their resources (and disposing of the nasties responsibly like waste, wastewater and emissions) and aims to reduce their carbon emissions. A gold star in my book.
ETHICAL TRADING INITIATIVE (ETI) and WORLDWIDE RESPONSIBLE ACCREDITED PRODUCTION (WRAP)
ETI: This one was a new one for me- because it's a full on alliance of companies, trade unions, organisations and more wanting to improve the supply chain of various consumer goods! There's a base code of labour practice all must adhere to, as well as each member must submit annual reports on how they're progressing on the implementation of labour and social rights.
WRAP: Another independent initiative, this non-profit organisation focuses on lawful, humane, and ethical manufacturing in their factories in various sectors (footwear, apparel, sewn products, etc). There are 12 WRAP principles all must follow in order to get the certification.
We've all heard of the United Nations, right? How about the UN's International Labour Organisation? Well Better Work is a collab between that and a member of the World Bank Group called International Finance Corporation. Basically, it's all for improving working conditions and respecting labour rights and workers. Booyah!
Other certifications & standard to keep an eye out for...
What are some you look out for?
If you've been following this blog for a few weeks, you'll notice I'm moving towards more sustainable, ethical, and eco-friendly brands lately. This starts with my wardrobe!
I'm going through a few thought processes as I re-do my wardrobe, wanting to invest in high-quality pieces:
Have these tips helped?
This isn't your average blog. THINK OF IT LIKE THE BRITISH LIBRARY, EXCEPT WAY SASSIER.
Hi! I'm Melissa, an Australian-based Latina science educator, podcaster, and freelance writer. I spend a lot more time on Instagram and Twitter, but blogging is my first love. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you stay a while.
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