15:06 16 June 2009
With so many companies making claims that they offer ethical products, it can be hard to know what is the real deal or simply a marketing ploy.
Here are few helpful tips on what you can do to ensure you are shopping responsibly and not being taken for a ride.
1. Know your store
If you are in a larger store, don't assume that staff don't have a clue on where the company's ethical priorities lie, just ask them about it. Check they are signed up to the Ethical Trading Initiative. Even if they don't know, get them to ask their manager.
2. Buy less, but better quality
Keep your wardrobe to a tight minimum by buying fewer but better quality clothes that will last. Don't end up a with a fancy dress box full of unworn items. You will only add to the 900,000 tones of textile waste that we produce in the UK every year.
3. Expensive does not mean ethical
Unless you are prepared to spend your money on hand-crafted goods, items from a shop at the higher end of the market could be made in the same place as the items from a lower end of the market store.
4. Low price and low quality
A 5 outfit that has been shoddily put together will probably not have ticked ethical boxes during production. Somewhere along the line those producing the item will have been paid a poor wage and may have been treated badly.
5. The more information the better
If you have pestered the store about where the garment comes from and you are still none the wiser, check out the label on the item itself. Fairtrade products often boast their position on the tags. Some will inform you where it was made and where the raw materials come from. If so, it is a good indication that the brand is washing its hands of the early stages of the sourcing process.
Small steps to stylish
This might mean holding back on buying a bulk load of cheap garments on principle - even if they are a bargain! Support the stores and brands that boast Fairtrade and if you don't know who they are, find out.
7. Know the ethical alternatives
You may be surprised at the increasing affordability of organic fashion. Komodo, for example boast that they use, "natural and eco-friendly fabrics, dyes, and traditional handmade local skills", in their production. Brands such as LaLesso are renowned for their efforts and position on supporting Fairtrade. Try www.lalesso.com and browse the best ethical fashion.
8. Know your fashion scandals
This way you know not to buy Uzbek cotton and the leather from Bangladesh. The cotton from Uzbekistan was revealed to involve children being forced to work in fields, enabling the country to be the second largest cotton exporter after China. The workers for the leather production in Bangladesh have been reported as suffering ill-heath caused from the chemicals used in the tanning process.
Eight essential Fairtrade gems:
For full details on where to buy more ethical products and stores that carry the Fairtrade mark visit the Fairtrade Organisation website.
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