Category Archives: Ethical & Sustainable Garment Certification

Change Your Shoes

I have become addicted to YouTube.  Second only to The Guardian and The BBC website. How come the internet can become so addictive?  I am reasonably confident that in the future I will not look back, sigh fondly and think “I’m so pleased I looked at the news incessantly”.   However……YouTube is the new thing for me.  We are developing our own channel and while meandering around the eclectic, sprawling, enlightening, frightening, unpleasant, inspiring range of videos,  I came across this one – Change Your Shoes.

There is an app to support it so that I could go on a virtual march to Brussels. At the end of the campaign there will be a petition asking EU policy makers to prioritise regulating the shoe industry. When we purchase clothing, shoes, food, anything really, it is so easy to just not even think about how they were made and who made them. Sometimes we want to close our eyes and shut down our curiosity because the whole world seems such a crazy, barbaric, place and it can feel overwhelming.   Especially if you watch as much news channels as I do – the bad stuff gets all the headlines.

But I can make a difference.  Watching this video made me feel positive.  Because it reminded me – if I ask a few questions when I buy things, is this local produce when I eat in a restaurant? Who made these shoes and what do you know about them? How were these handbags made, who made them?   Its not enough that they look or taste beautiful – who made them, how they were treated, what they are made of, has an influence on how beautiful they really are.

What Daisy Did is a local company who really do know who make their handbags.  I have a bag and a purse and two of my friends following Christmas have bags and my niece a purse.  These bags really are beautiful inside and out – whenever someone says “I love your bag Susan” I immediately launch into the sustainable, ethical, story behind each of them.

Here at Cotton Roots our range of Fairtrade clothing and textiles is also beautiful and fascinating to me. I adore knowing where the cotton came from – Pratima Organic Growers Group in Odisha India, that Sreeranga has organised our order for us, that Armstrong Knitting Mills spun the cotton for us, that Suvastra made the items for us.

Our new delivery of Fairtrade tea towels and Fairtrade shopping bags thrill me.

Sign up for the virtual march to Brussels on the app here 

 

The People Who Grow the Cotton for our Fairtrade & Organic Clothing

I thought you might  like to know about the people who plant, care for and harvest the cotton which we use in our Cotton Roots clothing.  After all that’s what Fairtrade is all about – having a connection and supporting people at the start of the cotton chain – the farmers.

The reasons I love Fairtrade and consider it the “Gold Ribband” of ethical certification is because I know where every step of the manufacturing chain takes place.  Including the cotton farmers, the weavers, knitting mill, dyers and manufacturer of the actual garments.

The cotton for our range of Fairtrade and Organic Polo Shirts, T Shirts, Hoodies, and Tea Towels is all grown in the Indian state of Odisha by Pratima Organic Growing Group.

The cotton for our Cotton Roots clothing grown by Pratima Growers group
The cotton for our Cotton Roots clothing grown by Pratima Growers Group

We work closely with Sreeranga (Ranga), who is on the centre left picture above. Ranga often spends time with the cotton farmers and is vital to create the link between you, our supporters and customers, our team at Cotton Roots and the cotton farmers.

The cotton farmers have a Facebook page and I thought it would be a great idea to let our customers know about it.  Maybe you can contact them and thank them for their top quality cotton? Or post some photographs showing the clothes you have which has been made with their cotton? This is the Pratima Facebook page.

Go on make the connection to the people who grew the cotton for you and who you try to support through Fairtrade.

Really enjoyed this article written by Sureel Singh who is a Fairtrade Liaison Officer and worked with the farmers. Transformation journey for Pratima Cotton growers.  It gives a really good insight into the project and the great progress being made.

 

Are businesses doing enough to encourage sustainability?

“Business sustainability, also known as corporate sustainability, is the management and coordination of environmental, social and financial demands and concerns to ensure responsible, ethical and ongoing success.”

The global population has now reached over seven billion, resources are increasingly scarce and climate change is a reality. The more we take a sustainable and ethical approach in our daily lives, the better. The same goes for businesses; the more companies that incorporate sustainability into their lifestyles – the better. The two go hand in hand.

Consumers are generally aware of the environmental impact of energy use, transportation, waste and recycling, with basic environmentally friendly actions, such as switching off lights, reusing shopping bags and opting for paperless bills now a part of their daily lifestyles. But far fewer are aware of the relative impacts of their leisure and lifestyle choices and the goods and services they consume.

Brands and retailers have a good opportunity to help consumers understand the broader impacts of their lifestyles and the products they use but are they doing enough? Shouldn’t all businesses be highlighting the importance of sharing environment related information with consumers to help them make the right choice for the environment and a sustainable future?

In 2013, research from the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Consumption initiative revealed these findings:

  1. Sustainability needs a makeover: Consumers need to be excited and motivated by sustainability in order to engage. Business needs to use language that is more familiar and offer consumers incentives and sustainable choices that are more relevant to their lives and aspirations.
  1. Companies need to use six key strategies to seize the opportunity and enable more sustainable lifestyles. They can strengthen the consumer case for sustainability, engage their marketers, better integrate sustainability into research and development, create platforms for consumer collaboration, activate employees as advocates, and quantify outcomes.

There is a significant opportunity for businesses to help consumers make major changes in their lifestyles and purchasing habits. Just by providing better information and labelling, increasing awareness about the issues that are important to their company, helping raise money for causes that are important to their stakeholders and ensuring sustainability takes centre stage when it comes to product innovation.

At Cotton Roots, we are passionate about making clothing which are fairly made, ethical sourced and sustainable in creation and we believe strongly in promoting this cause.

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 14.29.33

Here are just some of the things we do at Cotton Roots, which we hope encourages more people to think of ways they too, can lead a sustainable lifestyle:

  • 95 percent of all the bags we use to package our garments are recyclable.
  • We find use for all of garments and donate clothes to Willen Hospice which is local to us, or to World in Need www.winint.org
  • Where we can’t use some of the by-products of our manufacturing process we try and find another use for them
  • We often have small amount of rayon thread left on spools. Local schools and universities use the spare thread
  • We also collect our off-cuts of FAIRTRADE and organic fabric. We have found university students really appreciate these pieces of material for use in often ground-breaking fashion designs.
  • Our cardboard is donated to schools when it is useful, otherwise it is sorted for recycling.
  • Whenever we can we purchase items which are pre-used.
  • We purchase our electricity from Ecoctricity. After much research we selected Ecotricity as the energy supplier most committed to renewable energy.
  • We have recently found a printer that uses vegetable oil inks. We also use recycled paper throughout the company or paper which uses FSC managed forests.

What about you? What do you think? Do you think businesses are doing enough to promote sustainability?

So you want to be a Fairtrade Supplier?

Fairtrade reduces poverty. It provides local sustainability, better prices and safeguards humane working conditions for farmers and workers in the developing world. For those reasons alone, why wouldn’t you want to be a Fairtrade supplier?

But Fairtrade works both ways. It can also be good for your business too. Did you know that nearly 9 out of 10 consumers trust Fairtrade? And 4 out of 5 of them said having an ethical label on a product showing it is sustainable increases the likelihood of them buying a product? So it begs the question, can you afford not to carry the Fairtrade certification?
5

It’s good to know that Fairtrade is no longer a new concept but in order to generate greater sales for the benefit of disadvantaged and marginalised producers it’s more important than ever to get even more manufacturers involved with it. Did you know there are over 4500 Fairtrade products available? The blue-green logo has become quite common on products – coffee, chocolate, bananas, beauty products, cotton – these can all be certified Fairtrade, which means it’s far easier than you think to supply them.

Bananas?

The price of a banana brought in a UK supermarket has dropped from around 18p to 11p. The result is that farmers and workers in countries like Colombia and Dominican Republic, growing bananas for a living is becoming unsustainable. But supplying or buying Fairtrade bananas in the UK means that producers are guaranteed a minimum price, get an extra premium to invest in their community and have improved workplace condition and protection.

Chocolate?

You know that satisfying feeling you get from a chocolate bar? Well you’d probably feel a little less satisfied if you knew what it took to produce it. Life is tough for coca farmers. The price of the cocoa bean has slumped in recent years despite high demand. Disease and age are damaging coca trees and few young people are becoming cocoa farmers because of the poor prospects. But Fairtrade is helping put a stop to that. It’s making places like Ivory Coast and Ghana more sustainable by guaranteeing minimum prices and providing a premium to invest in local communities so farmers can provide a better future for themselves and their families. You can give them this opportunity just by supplying Fairtrade chocolate.

Coffee?

By choosing Fairtrade coffee, you are helping invest in schools, reforestation and agricultural improvements in developing countries and helping farmers around the world get a fair deal, improving their working, social and community lives. They are guaranteed a Fairtrade minimum price for their coffee, which aims to cover the costs of production and act as a safety net when market prices fall below a sustainable level.

Cotton?

Cotton farmers in developing countries like India are living in hardship. The challenges range from poor prices for seed cotton through to competition from highly subsidised producers in rich countries. Fairtrade cotton was launched to put an end to this and help the farmers who are often left invisible, neglected and poor at the end of a long and complex cotton supply chain. Supplying products made from Fairtrade cotton ensures that these farmers receive a fair and stable price for their cotton.

Beauty products?

Did you know there are nearly 150 Fairtrade beauty products available? From dental care to body butter the list is endless. Small scale farmers in over 50 countries are producing ingredients such as coconut, argan and brazil nut oils for beauty products. With Fairtrade, they are getting a fair price and enough support to invest in community projects,

It’s not just these products either – gold, flowers, sugar, wine, tea – these are all available with the blue and green logo.

A recent survey found that British shoppers are up to three times more likely to choose environmentally friendly products than they were in 2011, so if you are a Fairtrade licensee it will encourage consumers to choose your business over competitors who are not offering the same ethical conditions. Whether you run a restaurant, pub, cafe or are an independent retailer wanting to stock these items, you can use the National Fairtrade Purchasing Guide to help you find a supplier.

This isn’t just aimed at suppliers either! If anything it’s to show just how easy it is to come across Fairtrade products. Supplier or consumer – it doesn’t really matter. Choose Fairtrade.

Bespoke WRAP certified polo shirt manufacture

Great news! Our sister company Impact Trading have won a good order from the marketing agency Brand Communications. This is to supply a large number of polo shirts, designed especially for their client.  Because we are manufacturing for Brand we can’t let you know who the garments are for – shhhhh it’s confidential.

However we are working with a supplier in Pakistan and we are pleased to say that even though we have had  to work to a tight price we have been able to supply WRAP certified garments.  We were delighted.  Not only that the factory is a gold rated WRAP factory.

WRAP certification means that the factory manufacturing the garments meets twelve basic criteria, in relation to employment rights.  So it’s emphasis is upon the manufacturing stage rather that starting at the cotton producer stage which fairtrade excels in.  WRAP certification is growing more prevalent, it is a huge improvement and shows that the publicity and campaigning is starting to reap rewards.

Our top passion here at Cotton Roots is to supply Fairtrade certified clothing, but WRAP is big step in the right direction. We are so pleased that Brand Communications chose us to trust us, once again, with the manufacture and that ethical improved sourcing is part of the package.

WRAP certification information can be found on our certification page here, which includes links to the WRAP website for further information.