Many of us try to be ethical in our purchases. According to a recent survey, 96 percent of us think that our own actions such as donating and recycling clothes, or buying ethically, can make a difference. This is great news but there’s still something of a misunderstanding about what is and what isn’t ethical manufacturing.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at why ethical manufacturing is so important to the environment and people around the world. If you’ve been on the fence about paying a premium for ethically-made goods, we hope this article can convince you that it’s worth it.
Ready to learn more about how your choices can impact others around the world? Then read on!
Ethical Manufacturing Helps Prevent Worker Exploitation
If you can, take a look at the label on your top right now. What information is there on that little strip? More likely than not, all it says is where it was made, what it’s made of, and how you should wash it.
It’s very easy to ignore the problems of un-ethical manufacturing when we go by the label. There’s no way for us to know what the working conditions are like in the factory or whether children have made your top. Let’s take a look at some of the ways that workers are exploited around the world while making clothes and bags.
Around the world, hundreds of millions of children have to work, depriving them of the right to go to school. A large proportion of these children are employed in sweatshops making clothes and textiles. Ethical manufacturing means buying from companies that refuse to employ children.
Health and Safety Violations
Health and safety violations in sweatshops are all too common. In 2013, a textile factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 1000 workers. The fast fashion industry demanded that workers go back into a building that was not fit for purpose, leading to these deaths.
Lack of Worker Power
Workers in sweatshops are usually banned from joining unions. This means that they have no collective bargaining power and no way to make their voices heard to management about the poor conditions.
Corporal Punishment and Other Cruel Measures
Due to the lack of collective bargaining power and the need for money in deprived societies, management may use corporal punishment and other cruel measures to keep order in sweatshops.
Ethical Manufacturing and Climate Change
Workers’ rights aren’t the only issue with unethical manufacturing around the world. Another key issue is how unethical manufacturing can contribute to climate change. When weighing up whether a luxury bag is worth it, it’s worth questioning how the fashion industry impacts the world’s climate.
Use of Natural Resources
The fashion industry is growing and it uses a lot of natural resources. According to United Nations figures, 20 percent of the world’s wastewater comes from the fashion clothing manufacturers. It takes a great deal of water to grow cotton.
Synthetic fabrics are also problematic as they are made from oil and other fossil fuels. This means that they are not biodegradable and the manufacturing process can pollute water sources with plastics.
The fashion industry also has a large role in soil depletion around the world. Growing the same crop, such as cotton, over and over again on the same patch of land, leads to soil depletion, where the soil loses nutrients. Heavy use of chemicals in cotton and other crop production can also lead to pollution of the soil and water table.
The fashion industry needs to transport goods from the supply chain across the world from where they’re made in Asia and Africa to the west. This transportation often uses cargo planes and cargo ships in vast numbers. This boosts the fashion industry’s carbon footprint even more.
Fast Fashion Does Not Offer High-Quality Products
Fast fashion is focused on offering cheap and disposable clothing that is not well-made and will not last for a long time. Due to this, production must increase as owners throw away old shirts and dresses rather than repairing them. This, in turn, uses more resources than longer-lasting clothing.
How You Can Combat Unethical Manufacturing
While the onus of change rests with the fast fashion industry, we can make an impact. We need to be canny consumers and purchase goods that are kind to workers around the world as well as the climate. What does this look like in real, concrete terms?
Avoiding Replica Fashion
One of the most important changes that you can make is avoiding “replica” pieces. These are pieces that ape more exclusive brands. For example, you may see a replica luxury designer bag that is a fraction of the price of the real thing.
Unfortunately, this lower price often means that the replica piece is made using sweatshop labor and in terrible working conditions. If you want something that is similar too but not as expensive, look for diffusion brands. These are secondary lines that come under the umbrella of larger companies.
For example, Love Moschino is a diffusion brand of Moschino which is ethical manufacturing.
Spend a Little More
We touched on this issue a moment ago but if you want to support ethical fashion, you should be prepared to spend a little more. Ethical fashion puts more effort into where it sources its materials and the factories that it uses than fast fashion does. Therefore, this is reflected in the costs.
Buy High-Quality Clothes
Buying high-quality clothes means that they should last longer and repair will be more worthwhile if they rip or break in another way. This is in contrast to fast fashion, where you would typically throw away a broken item and buy another cheap one. Luxury brands are a great place to look for these types of clothes and accessories.
The Extra Effort Is Worth It
Ethical manufacturing may not be too common in the fashion industry but it’s worth looking for. Next time you’re looking at a fashion accessory you want to buy or some designer bags, ask yourself what you’ll be supporting. Is it ethical?
If you’re interested in browsing luxury brands and eschewing fast fashion, take a look at our shop! We stock a lot of fantastic brands that we’re sure you’ll love and that you can enjoy with a clear heart. If you’ve got any questions, get in touch with us!