Eve Norridge from MeasureUp tells us about the new indicators used to compare fashion brand ethics at measureup.org.uk
It's been four years since we launched MeasureUp, a website which helps UK consumers compare the ethics of different fashion brands. Happily a few things have changed over that period. Generally we've seen more fashion companies start to think about ethical issues in the way they run their business. And generally, those that already had ethical programmes have been doing more. This has been evident through the fact that we've rarely had to downgrade a company's performance
against any of our indicators and there have been plenty of times when we've been able to upgrade them.
But after four years, we felt it was time for a review. In particular we'd been hoping for some time to add in some indicators on environmental issues. So MeasureUp is now back, and updated with three new ethical criteria against which it is possible to compare fashion brands.
Firstly, we've started looking at whether companies have a scheme in place to help their customers reuse, repair or recycle old clothing, helping us move a way from the wasteful age of 'fast fashion' where we wear an item once or twice then throw it away. One of the best brands we've seen on this issue is Patagonia. In 2011, to discourage excessive consumption, the company even went so far as to take out an advert in the New York Times on Black Friday
saying, 'Don't buy this jacket'.
Secondly, we've been looking at how companies source their cotton. Cotton is one of the most widely used materials in clothing but also one of the world's thirstiest crops. The Environmental Justice Foundation estimates that it takes around '2,720 litres of water to produce one cotton t-shirt, equivalent to what an average person might drink over three years'. So we've started checking whether
companies are using or planning to use only cotton from more sustainable sources such as the Better Cotton Initiative in their products.
Finally, we've started recording whether companies have any scheme in place to end the use and release of hazardous chemicals during washing and dyeing processes in their supplier factories. In some parts of the world poor practices are leaving drinking water unsafe and causing horrendous pollution. The best companies, such as Fairtrade brand People Tree are already having their clothes made using safe, non-toxic dyes. We hope that others will follow.
As with all our indicators on MeasureUp, we hope these new ethical criteria will highlight those companies that are doing well and encourage others to do better. Why not take a look at measureup.org.uk
You might also like:
The 10x10 Challenge The #FightFastFashion Campaign
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