fair trade and organic
Fashion is following food by introducing a number of social and environmental certification schemes in recent years. The major ones are organic and Fairtrade certified cotton. These certification schemes seek to address particular issues in the cotton supply chain. Organic certification is principally concerned with the farming techniques used in growing the cotton, while Fairtrade certification focuses principally on the trading relationship between buyers and cotton farmers. Another fair trade label you sometimes see is from IFAT, the World Fair Trade Organisation. This is a global network of organisations that seeks to enable producers to improve their livelihoods and communities through fairer trade. Members of the network can include producer cooperatives, export companies, importers, retailers and individuals.
Many high-street retailers now sell organic and/or Fairtrade certified cotton clothes. The expanding market for organic and Fairtrade cotton has been hugely beneficial to many farmers involved in these certification schemes and has given consumers a choice about the cotton they choose to buy. These certifications, however, are not an answer to all ethical issues within company supply chains - many companies who use organic or Fairtrade certified cotton may still have labour rights violations in both their ‘normal' or certified supply chains as the Fairtrade certification only applies to cotton production, not garment production.
- Read about whether Fairtrade certified cotton is ensuring that workers' rights are protected in Factsheet 14: Ethical and fairly traded fashion.
- Read about how fair trade has developed across Europe on the Clean Clothes Campaign website.
- 'Is the fair trade economic model a good fit for the garment industry?' Read the Manquila Solidarity Networks report on the subject.
- Read the PAN-UK Guide for fashion students about organic cotton, 'Moral Fibre'.
- Fashioning an Ethical Information has put together information about textiles.
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