Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Toolbox for Ethical Shopping Pt. 4

Earlier this week, I found this graphic from, which I think perfectly sums up exactly why it is so important that we are aware of where our clothing comes from.  Let's assume the average t-shirt actually does cost $14.00- even though that is probably on the low side these days- then, according to this graphic, the average labourer receives less than 1% of the cost of a pretty inexpensive t-shirt.  I'm fairly certain (and sincerely hope) I'm not the only one sitting here thinking, "that doesn't sound fair at all." Because it really isn't.

That is why I am researching company policies, so that together we can avoid companies that spend less money paying the people behind our purchases than they pay the shipping companies.  This is part 4 of my review of the policies of companies in my local mall, Coquitlam Centre.  If this is the first time you've come across this blog and are curious about the other stores check out parts 1 thru 3 below.   Today, we're starting with the "K"s.

Kebe is a small boutique store in Coquitlam Centre and has no website, and therefore no information available to the public on their supply chain.

Much like every other cell phone provider I've come across at Coquitlam Centre, Koodo carries many different brands on technology.  As I've said before, with all technology we have to be very aware of how the tantalum, a mineral used in cell phones, laptops, etc., is mined, as it is notorious in the industry for slave labour.  Because of this, each brand would need to be research separately.  I have done the research on Apple, and they are the only brand I know of that has released a statement that their tantalum mines are free from slave labour.  I just did a quick check on Nokia, and while they consistently mention striving to be "ethical" there was no mention of child or forced labour in their supply chain at all.  Sony has no information on their supply chain whatsoever.  Samsung, however, states that they don't permit forced or child labour in the making of their products, which is hopeful!  The one thing missing from their policies is factory audits or inspection.  Their website makes no note of how, or even if, they check for these things in their supply chain.

La Senza
I'm both surprised and happy to say that La Senza has some great policies in place.  They are a branch of a multinational corporation called "L Brands" and their website not only states that they prohibit forced, indentured, prison, bonded, or child labour, as well as any labour obtained through human trafficking.  They state that all workers must meet the minimum local age for work, or the standard of the ILO, whichever is higher.  They also have some great policies on minimum wage and maximum working hours.  On top of this, their website outlines the process a factory must go through in order to become an L Brands supplier.  They begin with an audit and risk assessment, and once those have been passed, they must agree to ongoing, unannounced audits.

La Vie en Rose
The La Vie en Rose website has no information on their supply chain available.

While Laura is locally trying to make a difference by donation to the Canadian Cancer Society, which is obviously very commendable, their website has no information on their supply chain, or the people behind the clothing they sell.

Lazy One
Lazy One is a somewhat comical pyjama store.  They are moving towards greener initiatives, such as recycled clothing hangers, but unfortunately, their website has no information on where or how their products are made.

Le Chateau
Le Chateau also has some great policies in place! They inspect their factories on a regular basis, through unannounced audits, to ensure that child or forced labour are not present.  On top of having those very necessary policies in place, along with minimum wage, maximum work hours, health and safety, and discrimination, they also restrict the use of hazardous materials in the making of their products.

Lululemon has a Vendor Code of Ethics with six zero-tolerance policies, which include child labour, forced labour, corruption, and minimum wage violations.  The Lululemon sustainability team and third-party auditors provide announced, semi-announced, and unannounced audits of all their factories.

I'm excited to say I have a new love for Lush!  I've never really bought anything from there before, but if you're a close friend or a family member, beware, you may be getting gifts from Lush in the future!  Lush has its own Ethical Buying team whose job it is to find ethically produced ingredients for their products.  They start locally, but in the cases that the ingredient isn't found in Canada, they travel the world, visit potential suppliers and find out as much as they can about the planting and harvesting of the ingredient.  They build relationships with the growers and producers and work to ensure that the ingredients are grown sustainably and in fair conditions. My favourite part is the end of their "Ethical Buying" section on their website, which states "Buying from small-scale producer groups affords us the opportunity to drive positive change, encourage sustainability, and form long-lasting relationships with people all over the world."  If those aren't good policies, I don't know what is!

London Drugs
London Drugs is a strange store, sort of a drug store crossed with an electronic store, crossed with a grocery store.  Because of this, they carry so many brands it is impossible to say where they lie on our spectrum. They have some fair trade chocolate. They carry Apple products.  They probably even have some ethically produced make-up.  But once again, we would have to research each brand.  And as this is not my full-time job, I think it would take to long for the sake of this blog!

MAC has very little information on their company at all on their website.  All I could find were the products they sell. I have very little knowledge on how make-up is produced, and I know recently the biggest ethical dilemma with make-up has been whether or not it has been tested on animals.  But I'm pretty sure make-up is made from (at least some) natural materials, which means someone had to plant//harvest/etc. those materials to make our make-up.  In any case, you wouldn't know people were involved at all my looking at their website.

Mappins Jewellers
Mappins has very little information about the metals used in the make of their jewellery, or the people behind the metals, on their website. The one thing they do have is a line of Canadian Diamonds, which were mined out of the Northwest Territories, and can be bought with the confidence of knowing they're not conflict diamonds.

Merle Norman
Merle Norman is another cosmetics brand that I know very little about.  However, I'm pretty satisfied with the statement on their website, which reads "To ensure optimum quality control, the company researches, develops, manufactures and packages its own products."  Generally speaking, if a company manufactures its own product directly, its pretty safe!

Mr. Big & Tall
Bad news for you extremely tall, large men out there.  Mr. Big & Tall has no information about its supply chain on its website.

Naturalizer Shoes
Naturalizer Shoes is a branch of Brown Shoe Company.  Brown Shoe Company's website outlines
their Production Code of Conduct, which states that no suppliers may be involved in human trafficking, slavery, forced labour, or child labour.  It also states that their suppliers should pay their employees in regulation with local industry standards and minimum wage.  Unfortunately, I doubt whether local industry standard is generally fair.  Brown Shoe's code also states that it reserves the right to announced, unannounced, internal, or third party audits.

For those of you who have gone through this whole blog, confused by the colours, you can check out part one of this series to see what makes a store green (great policies in place), yellow (lacking a few key aspects in their policies, or a little vague), or red (appalling policies or lack thereof).  Thanks again for reading.  As always, if you have any information to add, feel free to comment so that more people can benefit from the knowledge you have!

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