What does ethical mean?
The term "ethical trade" first gained currency in the mid 1990's, where it was used as a term for socially responsible sourcing. Ethical trade addresses the ethical aspects of organisations including worker welfare, agricultural practice, natural resource conservation, and sustainability of the environment.
1. pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct.
2. being in accordance with the rules or standards for right conduct or practice, especially the standards of a profession.
We need to take responsibility as ethical suppliers as well as ethical consumers.
This is how I have made Loom Living and the supply of my bamboo bedlinen ethical.
Being an ethical supplier:
When I started my bedlinen business I wanted to operate differently to other big bedding businesses that have lost touch with their supply chain and have no idea how, or where, their bedding is made.
I have been visiting my bedlinen manufacture in China for over 10 years and know firsthand, how the workers are treated, and have seen their working conditions. They have been producing my quilt cover sets to a very high standard in quality and delivery.
One of the many things that has impressed me over the years is how the owner and operator Edward treats his workers. Some of the workers and senior management have been working for him for more than 15 years. They have an hour lunch, and the factory shuts down completely while everyone leaves for lunch. Every 2 years the management have holiday and they choose where they want to go; In the past they have been to Vietnam and Thailand.
My bedlinen is manufactured in this factory that has been audited and checked by an internationally recognised body SMET, the world’s most commonly used ethical audit.
Watch this short video on YouTube with my interview with Edward the factory owner.
The Sedex ethical trade audit:
“For us the business case is simple. We need to ensure that the suppliers we partner with are working in an ethical manner, and SMETA offers robust ethical audits that help inform and guide us when making these decisions. And because our suppliers can share those audits with multiple buyers, we all avoid unnecessary duplication, saving time and money across the supply chain.”
Sharon Childs – Finance Director and Head of Sustainability at The Sourcing Team
Being an ethical consumer:
As an ethical consumer I need to understand that bedding and clothing cost money to produce. Buying bedlinen that is good quality and ethical usually costs a little more, but it will last longer and not end up in landfill in 6 months. I need to understand that paying someone a fair wage to manufacture my bedding will translate to slightly higher retail prices.
My bedding may cost a little more than the big homeware and bedlinen brands but this is because I accept the price quoted, and work out my RRP accordingly.
It is frightening to think that with workers being paid a fair wage and with inflation, prices for bedlinen are still being forced down! Something has to give; and that is usually the factory in China who will then push workers harder to produce products quicker or work longer hours. We cannot expect cheaper bedlinen every year without realising someone, somewhere is actually paying the price for your cheap bedding. We as a society needs to consume less and be prepared to pay more for what we buy, especially if it’s ethically made, that is the only way to be an ethical consumer.
We need to change or disposable attitudes to clothing and bedding.
The colours I have chosen are contemporary and yet are not fashion driven. Fashion or trend driven colours will date and then be disposed of.
So as ethical consumers we need to take responsibility for what we buy and how much we buy.
"Ethical fashion begins with the need to treat all people as if they truly matter" Naomi Klein in the latest British Elle.
I can sleep, in my bamboo bedlinen of course, with a clear conscience knowing that my supply chain is ethical and I produce quality bedlinen that makes you, as the consumer, ethical.