Whether you buy faux or real fur may seem like a personal decision, but in truth your purchases have far-reaching implications for people, animals and the planet. Here are five surprising ways your shopping decisions impact others.
1. Working conditions and fair pay in developing countries
Modern supply chains are complex and are mostly based in the developing world, and it’s a sad reality that many workers are subject to abuse and unethical workplace practices. Some companies go the extra mile to ensure workers are protected throughout their supply chains, for instance, some brands such as ASOS, are currently mapping out their supply chains to ensure that their products are ethically sourced.
To ensure the clothes you buy are not a product of forced labour or slavery, look for fashion retailers that adhere to organisations like the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), which help promote workers’ interests and rights.
2. Animal conservation and welfare standards
Another factor to consider is whether the retailer has strong animal welfare standards. Many companies turn a blind eye when it comes to materials sourced from endangered or exotic species, such as fur, feathers, bone, shell, teeth, etc. Buy from retailers that make specific promises about their use of these materials. And if you do choose to use leather or animal skin products, make sure to buy only from brands that guarantee the highest animal welfare standards.
3. Material ethics
There’s more to consider than just animals when trying to combat unethical business practices. Your shopping choices also have a huge impact on the environment. For instance, over 150 million trees are cut down every year to make cellulosic fibre, an alternative to cotton used in fabric. However, not all of this is sourced sustainably. To minimise the impact on the world’s endangered forests and the species that rely on them, check where your favourite fashion retailers source their fibres. Look for companies that only use fibre from FSC certified forests and are using recycled fibres.
4. Partners with organisations
Many fashion retailers work with partners that promote social and environmental enterprises. For instance, leather producers that are members of the Leather Working Group (LWG) have to meet efficiency targets on water, waste and energy usage. The Better Cotton Initiative and Cotton Made in Africa (CmiA) work to reduce the environmental impact of cotton production and improve the livelihoods and conditions of cotton farmers. Be sure to support fashion retailers that try to make a positive impact on their producers.
5. Carbon emissions
Another way that your shopping habits impact the environment is through carbon emissions. Some companies are certified carbon neutral, and many other are planning efforts to become carbon neutral, which they have achieved by investing in carbon-offset projects abroad in countries where their suppliers are located, and by reducing emissions associated with packaging, transport, deliveries and business travel. So if you want to support retailers that are protecting the environment, make sure to check what they are doing to tackle climate change.