How ethical is the outfit you are wearing right now?

Don’t know? You should, but that isn’t necessarily your fault. Ethical clothing and transparency from clothing brands is something that is getting a lot of attention, especially since the horrific collapse of a Bangladesh factory in 2013 where over 1,000 factory workers died and an estimated 2,500 were injured.  One of the many reasons why we as a consumer need to think twice about our next purchase and do some research.  The Eco Society Ethical Clothing Wardrobe New Zealand NZ

Factory worker | AdobeStock Image

It is important for us to know that people just like you and me make our clothes, they have families to provide for and should be treated with the same level of respect that we expect in the work place. We can help make this happen by making sure we buy clothing from companies that are transparent, offering a fare living wage to their workers, a safe work environment and which don’t use child labour. There are many organisations out there fighting for these rights, pushing for transparency from major clothing companies and putting together information so you can buy ethically.

The Fashion Revolution is a great place to start, they are a social enterprise creating a global movement and I recommend following them on social media to see what they are up to and to get inspired. Tearfund NZ released an Ethical Fashion Guide in 2017, which you can download for free. It has a list of brands graded from A to F, this measures the effort that each brand has made to ensure that workers are not exploited.  My personal favourite is the mobile app Good On You. They believe all brands should be transparent and that we as a customer have the right to know where and how our clothes are made.  This app is easy to use, helping you search by brands and see how they rate for both people, the planet and animals. It allows you to shop by category, identify deals and keep update to date on new brand research. The Eco Society Ethical Clothing Wardrobe New Zealand NZ

My Wardrobe (doesn't normally look this tidy), a collection of ethical and unethical items accumulated over many years.

For the last year or so this is how I have been shopping. Using the Tearfund NZ Ethical Fashion Guide I have established what brands I like that have an A or B grade. These are the grades that I feel are good enough and hold value to me. If I am out and about and come across something I like, but it’s a brand I know nothing about, I check them out on the Good On You app. This makes it easy for me to know who I am buying from and make a decision in store.

Next time you go shopping do some research to work out what brands have good ethical practices. If it doesn’t add up, no matter how cheap and cute it is, walk away! We must stand together to push companies for full transparency, for human rights, to ensure that the people who made our clothing are paid a fair wage, to make sure no one is exploited and to ensure a safe working environment that doesn’t put anyone’s life in danger.

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