One of the keys to being a more conscious consumer is knowing where to get information .
Unfortunately this isn’t always an easy task when it comes to sustainable and ethical fashion choices. The name of the big fashion game at present is to try to provide a little information as possible, so much so that some garment manufacturers website and e-shops don’t even provide information on the fabric an item is made from. This is a bit of a slap in the face for anyone out there who wants to make an educated purchasing decision as it shuts down your decision making process at ‘does it look pretty on the model on the computer screen’. Not a very in depth purchasing process to say the least! With the difficulties of making an educated shopping decision in mind I have put together this list of resources for the consumer who wants to know a little more.
One of Australia’s leading resources for making ethical purchasing decisions. This website has a plethora of information about a variety of products and it comes in a handy on-the-go booklet or app form. I have been using this guide as my little ‘go-to’ while out shopping and love that it includes info on everyday purchases like food (especially beer… great for decision making at the pub).
Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) is Australia’s ethical labour certification board that exists to ensure that their rights are being protected and that workers are receiving the Award rates and entitlements. ECA has been established to promote ethical working conditions throughout the supply chain and to protect the rights of both Australian factory workers and homeworkers. The ECA has a list of accredited brands, which I have found handy when trying to research specific items, like cricket pants for Ged, because there are times in life when you need functional items not just nice bamboo tracksuit pants (which wouldn’t last one game of indoor cricket astro turf abrasion).
Behind the Barcode is a Baptist World Aid campaign to end worker exploitation. It is the home of the 2015 Australian Fashion Report and The Ethical Fashion Guide. The guide uses the findings of the Australia Fashion Report and assesses 219 fashion brands based on the overall grade the company received in the report, and whether the brand pays workers a wage that supports the basic needs of them and their dependants. They also have a similar model for electronics, which is often a purchase we make without contemplating the plight of the people who made them.
A not for profit based in the UK Labour Behind the Label provides a voice for garment workers worldwide by raising awareness, providing information about garment manufacturing, and encouraging international solidarity between workers and consumers. The website is a great resource for those who want to keep up to date with the social implications of garment manufacturing and get involved in supporting workers rights and lobbying governments and policy makers to bring about change. There is also a handy reports and guides section that covers a variety of topics and will have at least one report that appeals to your hungry-for-knoweldge brain.
Want some reasons to justify your organic cotton purchases? The report from Pesticide Action Network UK and Environmental Justice Foundation ‘The Deadly Chemicals in Cotton‘ will provide you a multitude of social and environmental reasons to shop organic. Memorise a few and watch peoples faces drop when they try to debate organic cotton with you at Friday afternoon drinks.
Like Labour Behind the Label, the Clean Clothes Campaign is a wealth of info about workers rights and a great place to get active if unethical working conditions starts a fire in your belly. Clean Clothes Campaign have a great collection of publications looking at ‘what is an appropriate living wage’ which is something you may remember Livia Firth trying to get a straight answer out of H&M’s Helena Helmmersson about at the Copenhagen fashion summit.
Ethical Fashion Forums ‘The Source’ is a global platform for sustainable fashion that aims to make it easy for fashion professionals and businesses to work more sustainability by providing a ‘one-stop-shop’ for information and contacts. A subscription based business tool, The Source might be a handy resource for those in the manufacturing business (I don’t have a subscription… hence the ‘might be’). For those who aren’t manufacturers but are a little sustainable/ethical fashion curious, have a nosey around the website… I recommend the blog for a little bit of learning.
While the ethical side of fashion often gets the most media attention (animal rights and human rights are incredibly powerful emotive topics that are close to our hearts), the Greenpeace Detox Campaign focuses on the chemical impact of fashion on the health of our environment and our bodies. A huge and sometimes overshadowed part of the global fashion industry, chemical pollutants are a real and scary thing. The campaign is action based with loads of areas to browse but my personal favourite section is the ‘publications’. Take care to remove all breakable items from the area before reading as you are likely to feel pretty angry about the way the global fashion industry currently operates (I got angry reading this one).
I hope that this list provides you a few places to start reading. It’s not all inclusive (because I have assignments to do and shouldn’t really be blogging) but you will likely be able to find more resources as you make your way through some of these ones.
Please share any of your favourites with us below!