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Image via mydomaine.com
Written by: Sudha Medapati, Edited by Chantel Ong

The desire for our products and practices to be good for the earth, the people who make them, and animals has increased with the newer generations. PWC cites that, “[Canadian] consumers are willing to pay a premium for products that are local, organic and ethically or sustainably produced.” Additionally, Forbes cites that “62 percent of Generation Z, who will begin entering the workforce this year, prefer to buy from sustainable brands”. To cater to gen Z, millennials, and sustainably-minded folks companies market their products as being “green” even when they really aren’t. This is where the third-party certification comes in. 

Walking down department stores, we see brands using green colored labels, naturistic aesthetics, words like “sustainability” and “eco-friendly” to mark up their prices.  The use of these vague words to describe their brand as “green” with no backing or explanation is known as “greenwashing”. To avoid companies that engage in greenwashing, it is important to know how to spot the brands that are ACTUALLY eco-friendly.

Third-party Certifications serve as a way to distinguish between ethical brands vs unethical brands.

What is a third-party ethical certification

There is no universal or governmental group that checks to see if a company’s product is ethical for the environment, workers, and animals.

To combat this issue, third party ethical certifications came about. These organizations are not affiliated with the government or the business. They are usually a group of experts who have experience in the industry. The organization comes up with their own standards by which they assess ethical performance.

For fashion particularly, there are many parts of the business: the sourcing of the materials, the workers who are making the products, the packaging and chemicals in the product, and the impact of that product on the environment and people. Due to so many factors being a part of the fashion industry, there are third party certification organizations for each of those parts. So a company can have many labels. One downside of a third party ethical certification is that, according to the Good Trade,  it can cost 25,000 dollars to get certified (depending on the revenue of the company). So many small businesses which say they are ethical cannot afford to get verified.

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Categories of third party ethical certification

There are three main categories that a company can get certified on. Below is a list of each and third-party certification organizations for those categories. These are the certifications you SHOULD be looking for when you shop for sustainable, ethical, and/or environmentally friendly fashion

Category #1: Environmental: Third-party organizations check for the environmental impact of a company’s clothing and items. If the company’s sourcing, materials, manufacturing, packaging, and more don’t meet their standards, the company will not be certified.

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GOTS: Global Organization Textile Standard goes through the processing, manufacturing and trading of organic textiles to verify that they are 

  1. organic and not using GMOs 
  2. not using toxic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers
  3. meets animal welfare standards

Certified Fashion Companies:

Bluesign Standard: Globally checks for the ecotoxicology impact of raw materials, energy inputs, and carbon emissions

  1. suggest how to reduce consumption
  2. gives alternatives to certain chemicals 

Certified Fashion Companies:

Category #2: Fair labor: These organizations check for the treatment of their workers (from fair wages to labor union rights) especially to the workers in the manufacturing process. They ensure ethical labour policies and a safe environment for employees. 

Fair Trade Certified: Represents thousands of products from 45 countries. Companies that have the fair trade seal are 

  1. -ensures no child labor 
  2. safe and fair working conditions, & provide fair pay.
  3. only certified for the final stage of manufacturing (doesn’t check for the ethics of the raw materials)

Companies: 

Fair Wear Foundation: Checks companies to certify that they are indeed providing fair conditions to their workers according to UN standards.  

  1. work with brands and industry personnel to push for fair working wages
  2. checkup on factory floors for fair conditions 
  3. certify that companies have union rights

Companies:

Category #3: Holistic: These organizations certify multiple parts of a company and provide a more multi dispensary look at a product & company.

Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex: Checks all levels of production and end product for 

  1. safety in textile production
  2. safety/good environmental and social conditions 
  3. works in over 70 countries 

Companies: 

B-Corporation: B-Corp is widely known and respected. It judges on the basis of both environmental and social performance. Companies that are certified are…

  1. committed to being transparent and being better
  2. have gone through a rigorous assessment to meet standards on all aspects of their company 

Companies:

  1. Veja
  2. Etiko
  3. Thread Harvest 

Higg Index: This was developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition to create better sustainability strategies for businesses at a scalable rate. 

  1. gives businesses insights into how to better their impact from the product materials to manufacturers to retailers 
  2. Isn’t useful for consumers but shows that companies associated that they are adamant about being better sustainably 

Companies:

Be Weary of Accountability

According to CompareEthics.com, “74 percent of shoppers now expect brands to be accountable for the sustainability of their supply chains.” With that being said, a company that takes the time to be certified is more trusted. Due to consumer demand because of certifiers, in the future, we may see more businesses choosing to ACTUALLY become green to get more customers. In the meanwhile, be weary of those vague terms that don’t provide any evidence.

Via ÀLA.HAUSSE‘s Multi-functional and Multi-purposeful Fashion Ecosystem- BUY/SELL/RENT/LEND/ (swap BETA 2021) mobile application, INDIVIDUALS & brands ( BETA 2021) are encouraged to REBUY, RESELL, REUSE and UP-CYCLE their personal “Clossets” aka Clothing Assets, along with overstock inventory and samples. Through this consumerism habit shift we indirectly slow down the urgency on fashion’s carbon footprint, aiding sustainability as a whole.

BETA Early Access Application Now Open for CA Fashion Lovers: Apply Now for LAST CALL 

with Stories on www.alahausse.ca

#ALAHAUSSE #WEARYOURPURPOSE #HAUSSEPEOPLE

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