Whether it’s due to the impending environmental disaster or the shifting priorities of a more compassionate society, there’s been a clear shift in recent years toward people making more conscious and socially responsible decisions. This involves, among other things, an increase in a plant-based diet, a decrease in the use of cars, and a greater focus on our buying decisions.
In particular, there has been a movement among customers to make mindful purchasing decisions, focusing on ethical and ecologically friendly products and businesses. This development is quite encouraging and bodes well for our future. Unlike gladiator sandals and galaxy print, this is one fad on which we urge everyone to jump on board.
It’s not always easy to make good choices when shopping, it might be difficult to figure out exactly what a company’s business practices are and how they impact our environment. Further, the majority of consumers are unsure of what it means for a product to be ethically sourced or Fairtrade. That’s why in this blog we will explain the differences and why it’s useful to learn about the differences.
What Is Fairtrade?
The Foundation was founded in 1992 after campaigners and human rights activists campaigned to establish a legal and institutional framework that would allow developing-country manufacturers to benefit from better trading conditions.
Their website tells us; “choosing Fairtrade means standing with farmers for fairness and equality, against some of the biggest challenges the world faces. It means the farmers creating change, from investing in climate-friendly farming techniques to developing women in leadership.”
Initially centred on the rights of coffee, cocoa, and tea farmers, the Fairtrade movement has grown to include traders from a variety of industries, including textiles and food. The clearly defined ‘Fairtrade’ label appears on products as a sticker or badge.
What Does Ethical Mean?
While Fairtrade is a regulated certification awarded by a foundation, ‘ethical’ is an unregulated term that refers to the working conditions and pay of a product’s producers.
Because the phrase is not certified, producers can apply or award it to their products at their discretion. Some producers that choose to designate their items as “ethically created” will provide information about what the phrase means to them, however, it can relate to anything from fair salaries to clean and safe manufacturing conditions. If you’re thinking about buying a product that’s labelled as ethical, find out what the certification means so you know exactly what you’re getting.
The Risks Of Greenwashing
“Ethically sourced” and “Fairtrade” have become buzzwords that, unfortunately, can be misused by companies to sell their products as consumers grow more aware of the origins of their products and the influence of their purchasing decisions.
Because the terms “ethical product” and “ethical sourcing” aren’t well defined, consumers must be vigilant and proactive to prevent being taken advantage of. This is similar to the usage of phrases like “natural” on food packaging, which is intended to appeal to health-conscious consumers but is not regulated or legally defined in any manner.
We advocate creating a personal set of standards that you’d like a product or company to fulfil in order for you to buy from them, and then conducting research to discover if a certain item meets those qualities before making a purchase. This has the extra benefit of motivating you to take your time and think about your decisions, which can lead to less spending and the purchase of items you don’t need.
Below we’ve put together an example of standards you can use to see if a company adheres to your own values:
- How does the company package their products? Containers and packaging make up a large portion of municipal solid waste production, accounting for 82.2 million tonnes in 2018. Look for packaging made of bioplastics, plant-based polymers, recycled paper and plastics, and post-consumer products on your next online shopping trip. On a sustainability-focused brand’s website, this information will be readily available and only a few clicks away, but on a greenwashed brand’s website, you’ll frequently be left with more questions than answers.
- What are their working conditions like? Because manufacturing contributes only 12-15% of the GDP in the United Kingdom, many corporations outsource their production. It might be difficult to learn about a company’s working conditions because many corporations go to great lengths to keep this information hidden. Consumers, on the other hand, can learn a lot about a company by seeking third-party certifications.
- Does the brand have certifications? Looking for green certifications is the most straightforward way to identify sustainable products. There are a lot of aspects that go into deciding eco-consciousness, but the most important ones include ethical worker treatment, responsible material sourcing, and waste management. Clients expect more openness after being duped for a long time, thus businesses seek these credentials to establish their validity. Popular certifications include the Vegan Society, Certified B Corporation, GoodWeave, Fair Trade, Global Recycled Standard, OEKO-TEX, Leaping Bunny, and Forest Stewardship Council.
Why Buy Fairtrade & Ethical?
To begin with, buying Fairtrade or ethically sourced products means you are reducing your personal contribution to the exploitation of workers throughout the world. You don’t have to feel guilty for forcing a 12-year-old girl to work for 16 hours a day in a factory, sewing until her fingers bleed. It may appear extreme, but it is the truth of the situation.
Clothing companies are often unaware that the pressure they put on their factories to cut costs can result in labour abuses such as wage violations, a lack of breaks, and hazardous or unhealthy working conditions. For what is usually pitiful pay, workers are prohibited from going to the bathroom or taking water breaks. If that seems like an environment you wouldn’t want to work in – and we certainly wouldn’t – it’s only logical to buy from firms that don’t put their employees through such suffering.
If that wasn’t enough, choosing an environmentally conscious business means lowering your carbon footprint, which has never been more important than it is now. Clothing manufacturing has a number of negative effects on the environment. Synthetic textiles such as polyester and nylon are essentially plastic, which means they are non-biodegradable, and need a lot of energy to manufacture. They are made from non-renewable resources, and are processed with chemicals that are detrimental to humans and the environment.
Natural materials, on the other hand, such as cotton, linen, and hemp, are biodegradable and require less chemical processing. Clothing manufacturers may go further greener by choosing organic cotton, which is grown without the use of pesticides or chemicals, or Tencel, which is created from sustainably obtained raw wood resources.
What Can I Do?
Your actions have a significant impact. Purchasing clothes that are ethically sourced or Fairtrade makes a significant difference in the lives of people all over the world, including their livelihood and quality of life. And it has a significant impact on the environment, which affects everyone on the globe, human, animal, and otherwise. As a result, it’s something worth thinking about.
Even if you don’t change your entire purchasing approach – after all, who can resist buying anything from Primark every now and then? – buying a Fairtrade shirt every so often is a commendable step in and of itself.
Whether you switch to entirely ethical purchasing or only buy a fairtrade banana occasionally, you’re helping to make the world a better place.
Shop At GoEthical
If you’d like to start buying ethically, download the GoEthical app. Whether you have a specific product in mind or you’re looking for items to reduce your waste. Buy and sell ethical & eco-friendly, artisan, and pre-loved products with us.
If you want to browse an array of environmentally friendly and sustainable products, all you need to do is download the GoEthical App for IOS or Google Play. On it, you can chat and connect with like-minded community members and discover detailed listings for ethical and eco products, from small sellers to well-known global brands.
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