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Sustainability is a word that’s thrown around by a lot of brands, bloggers, and activists. But, what does it really mean?

According to the UN, Sustainability is meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The oxford dictionary defines it as “Conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources.”

Sustainability may be easy to understand in theory, but practically, it is hard to differentiate from the brands that are greenwashing from those with high ethics and sustainability. Here are our top tips of what greenwashing myths you can look out for and the facts that you can confide in.

Myth - Clothing made from Recycled Materials is sustainable.

Fact - The fabric may be sustainable, but are the workers being treated and paid fairly?

Garment workers are often forced to work 14 to 16 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are on minimum wage, which in most manufacturing countries, represents half to a fifth of the living wage. The living wage is the bare minimum a family needs to fulfil their basic necessities. (Clean Clothes Campaign)

 

Myth - If a brand is transparent, it’s ethical.

Fact - You can be fully transparent about something, but it doesn’t make that action ok or ethical.

In Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index 2020 report, it rated H&M as the top rated transparent brand, creating confusion around which brands are doing good.

What we do know about H & M is that they generated $1,813.92m net profit in 2019, but were still unable to pay a living wage to any of the people that made their clothes.

H&M is working hard to do better, but that doesn’t mean their products are at all sustainable, child labour free, human trafficking free or add anything back into the communities they deplete from.

Myth - They have a code of conduct, therefore workers are treated well.

Fact - A code of conduct may have been written, but is it implemented in every stage of the supply chain and followed.

According to Carry Somers, founder and global operations director at Fashion Revolution, most brands do ban child labour within their supplier code of conduct, but many fail to police performance, leaving themselves and their consumers in the dark. (McClelland)

Even though a code of conduct is no substitute for the lawful protection of garment workers, it can provide leverage for better working conditions and mitigate rights violations in the industry. (Clean Clothes Campaign)

Myth- It’s made in the UK, so it’s ethical.

Fact - Not all brands made in the UK are ethical.

‘Many of Britain’s clothing factories have worse ethical standards than manufacturers in China, Bangladesh and Burma, the boss of one the UK’s biggest fashion retailers has claimed.’ (Aldrick, The Times)

However, “whilst it is true and deeply regrettable that there are companies in the UK that break the law, there are hundreds and hundreds of factories who offer a safe working environment, pay their staff well and value their staff as their most valuable asset.’ (Nigel Lugg) 

We believe that the highest level of ethics is hard to attain and no brand is perfect, but with over 130 brands on the platform, we want to hold brands to account. This is why we have created 20 standards that encompass the highest levels of ethics, and compare each brand against them.

Discover more here.

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Molly James

Writer’s Bio: Molly is our Conscious Living Buyer, a graduate in International Development with Spanish and a lover of anything with Peanut Butter.

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