Shopping on the high street is never easy for the ethically minded, especially as garment labelling is utterly insufficient. Spotting a garment with a green “Organic cotton” swing tag is the most you can expect from typical fast fashion brands aimed at the mass market such as H&M, Zara, Adidas, or Puma. Regarding issues such as slave labour, factory checks and living wages, the consumer is mostly left to themself. However, if you want to know under which conditions your clothes were made without going through every brand’s website and still being left unsatisfied, there is a tool you might want to learn more about.
…seeing the massive-scale industrialisation taking place and talking to locals about their working conditions gave us a much clearer and often shocking picture of the origins of many of the products we buy.
MeasureUp was created in order to make it easier for customers to shop ethically. Set up in 2012 and within little more than 6 months, it has listed over 50 high street favourites, measuring their ethical footprints against 10 indicators. Important factors like evidence of living wage, unannounced factory checks and supplier lists being made public are taken into consideration when showing us the overall rankings of individual brands or fashion groups. Companies listed had their codes of conduct scrutinised, being contacted by the MeasureUp team if they did not provide satisfying information.
Labelled with green, orange and red badges to highlight if the company is doing well, making process or did not give information on the indicators, this site gives a good and easy overview of ethical practice in the fashion industry. Some of the results are as bad as you expect them to be, others pleasantly surprising. Who would have thought that Asda did well in 8 out of 10 categories and even Primark scores 7 out of 10? However, one of the most important benchmarks, the evidence of living wages, should make all but one companies blush in shame. People Tree is in fact the only of 54 companies to have given evidence that they are paying what is needed to afford a decent living.
Hopefully MeasureUp will be used by many consumers and companies alike. Whereas for shoppers it can help to let their newly acquired knowledge influcence their consumer behaviour, this list could be a big step towards companies working on their ethical standards.
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