Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Ethical Issues in Textiles

Ethical Production & Fairtrade 

The textile and fashion industry has become a global phenomenon and textile products are made all 
over the world under increasingly competitive and unethical conditions. 

Fair trade is a social and economic movement which promotes international standards of ethical 
production, labour and environmental policies in the trading of goods or commodities such as cotton. 
It includes principles such as payment at a fair price and gender equality. 

Where fair trade is a way of doing business, ethical production refers to the production of a textile 
product and encompasses the whole life cycle of the product from the raw materials, through the 
finishing processes, to the construction. 

For example, you may have a garment that is made from cotton which was purchased in a fair trade 
way, but that does not mean the construction of the garment was produced in an ethical way. 
 Facts 

• For making a $100 pair of trainers, the factory worker will receive just 50 cents 
(www.cleanclothes.org) 

• The minimum wage for a garment worker in Bangladesh has stood since 1994 at just £7 per month. 
Garment workers went on strike and the national minimum wage board has now proposed raising the 
minimum to £12 per month, only half the most basic living wage estimate. 

(Report - Fashion Victims: The true cost of cheap clothes at Primark, Asda, and Tesco. 
http://www.cleanupfashion.co.uk/ ) 

• Total UK sales of Fairtrade products are running at £300m a year, a rise of almost 50 per cent in the 
past year. 

(The Independent – Fair trade clothing is new battleground for retailers. 13 March 2007) 
• Employing 2.5million workers in 4,500 garment factories, Bangladesh’s garment industry generates 
over three quarters of the country’s export revenue. (http://www.waronwant.org) 

Key Organizations 

Labour Behind the Label - http://www.labourbehindthelabel.org/ 
A campaign that supports garment workers' efforts worldwide to improve their working conditions. 
They are also the UK platform of the international The Clean Clothes Campaign 
http://www.cleanclothes.org/ 

Fashioning an Ethical Industry - http://fashioninganethicalindustry.org 
This is a project that works with tutors from fashion/textile courses to integrate ethical issues into their 
teaching. There is a good Resource section on their website. 

Ethical Fashion Forum - http://www.ethicalfashionforum.com/ 
This is a network and business support to promote sustainable fashion practices. They also have a 
social networking site which includes information on sourcing fabrics. 


 The Ethical Trading Initiative - http://www.ethicaltrade.org 
The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is an alliance of companies, non-governmental organisations 
(NGOs) and trade union organisations which aims to promote and improve the implementation of 
corporate codes of practice which cover supply chain working conditions. 

Fairtrade Foundation - http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/ 
This is a development organisation committed to tackling poverty and injustice through trade. They 
have developed a Fairtrade certification for cotton. 

Environmental Justice Foundation – http://www.ejfoundation.org 
This organisation runs campaigns to defend environmental damage and human rights. 

War on Want - http://www.waronwant.org/ 
War on want fights poverty in developing countries by campaigning for human rights against the root 
causes of inequality and injustice. 

Reading Materials 

Rivoli, P. (2005) The Travels of a T-shirt in the Global Economy: an economist examines the markets, 
power and politics of world trade. John Wiley & Sons: USA 

Ethical Consumer magazine http://www.ethicalconsumer.org 

Companies and Designers 

American Apparel -http://www.americanapparel.net/ 
US high street retailer who guarantee no sweatshop involvement with their range of jerseywear 
basics, along with a separate organic line. 

Made-By - www.made-by.org 
A network of environmentally and socially conscious fashion designers working with fair trade 
principles and organic materials. 

Rani Jones - http://www.ranijones.com/ 
High-end fashion collection. 

People Tree - http://www.peopletree.co.uk/ 
Fair trade and environmentally-friendly clothing for men, women and children. 

TerraPlana - http://www.terra-plana.co.uk/ 
Ethically- produced shoes. 

Audio Visual Resources 

Film about Fairtrade cotton in Cameroon, Fair-trade Foundation 
http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/resources/films/cotton_cameroon.aspx 

Steve Redgrave visits fair-trade cotton farmers in Mali, Fairtrade Foundation 
http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/resources/films/sir_steve_redgrave_visits_cotton_farmers_in_mali.aspx 

‘What’s done in our name?’ Social Responsibility and the Patagonia supply chain, Patagonia 
http://www.patagonia.com/web/us/footprint/index.jsp?null&setLocaleCode=en_US&setCountryCode=
US 

Interview with Bangladesh garment worker, Fashioning an Ethical Industry 
http://www.youtube.com/user/FEInumber1 

Forced child labour and human rights , Environmental Justice Foundation

Information from http://www.tedresearch.net/media/files/Fair_trade_and_ethical_production_.pdf

When buying clothes from cheap places like primark you just think your getting a bargain and don't give a thought as to why it is so cheap, unfortunately today's consumer society is feeding these problems causing huge devastation to third world country's. 

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