Time Out Rates Ethical Retailers

Time Out, London's weekly events magazine, has rated the big retailers selling ethical clothing. With every store trying to outdo the next by making bigger claims about how green they are, some research into their validity is timely and instructive. They based their scores on five criteria and Marks & Spencer was best on three of them, the Gap on one and H&M; on one. For upholding union rights, safe working conditions, and paying a living wage the Gap is best. For Fairtrade as defined by farmers being paid fairly: Marks is best. Use of organic cotton: H&M; launched a new line of organic cotton clothing including children's and used more than 40 tons of organic cotton in 2005. Least use of chemicals such as dyes and bleaches : best is Marks & Spencer as well as being best in treatment of the environment.

Under the worst categories: Topshop refuses to join the Ethical Trading Institute which monitors working conditions. Instead each factory self-assesses their own compliance. In all other categories the supermarkets rated worst. They have been slowest to include Fairtrade clothing and made little effort to supply organic. Much of the children's clothing contains Teflon, because it makes clothes last longer and reduces ironing. Supermarkets, especially Tesco, are expanding rapidly and it has been calculated that the energy-use from expansion likely outweighs energy saving measures. Time Out also listed ten of the best ethical retailers, all of which have been noted in these pages (stick to treehugger for info on the greenest labels): People Tree, Terra Plana, Katherine Hamnett, Edun, Equa, Potassium and Gossypium :: Time Out

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