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ethical shopping

Fashion, Life & Style

AD | Ethical Clothing Spotlight: tentree

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Have you heard of the sustainable clothing brand called tentree?  They are a Canadian ethical clothing company now available in the UK, where, as well as making stylish ethically and sustainably produced outdoors and casual wear, they plant 10 trees for every item you purchase – hence the name!

Trees are planted in seven different countries around the world – Madagascar, Nepal, Haiti, Cambodia, Senegal, Canada and the USA – in partnership with various reforestation charities, such as Trees for the Future – in order to ensure meaningful and sustainable replanting.  For example, in Senegal, agroforests of mango, papaya and guava are being planted to provide local farmers with a sustainable source of income. Meanwhile, in Haiti, an area that has had extensive deforestation, trees such as oak, eucalyptus and pine are being planted to stabilise the soil.    

Of course, it’s not just about the trees (although it’s a good place to start).  As a certified B-Corp, tentree’s ambitious goal is to become the most environmentally progressive brand on the planet.  As such, every tentree item is ethically made using a blend of sustainable fabrics.  From organic cotton, recycled polyester sourced from plastic bottles, non-mulesed merino wool, cork, or coconut – tentree strive to do their best.

Check out their range of ethical clothing for both women and men.  I’ve picked some of my favourite pieces for you to peruse, but there are lots more great pieces over on the website:

tentree Ethical Clothing for Women

tentree clothing

From top left, clockwise:

Sapling t-shirt (£30.99) / Treescape long-sleeve top (£37.99) / Highballer Zip-Up (£71.99) / Tulita Crew Jumper (£59.99). 

It’s hard to pick a favourite from the women’s collection, right? I could quite happily see myself wearing all of these pieces.  What I like best is that tentree’s pieces aren’t too outdoorsy – you could wear them on an adventurous weekend away, but equally these pieces would fit right in on the school run or just lounging at the weekend.  

tentree Ethical Clothing for Men

It’s not just women that are well catered for at tentree, men are looked after too with the equally stylish ranges.  Again, here are some of my favourites from the men’s collection:

From clockwise, top left:

Creation T-shirt (£30.99) / Arawin Half-Zip Hoodie (£61.99) / Stone Henley (£40.99) / Space Bear T-shirt (£30.99)

I may well be slipping one of these pieces under the Christmas tree this year…!

guppyfriend washing bag

As tentree’s items are made often with a mix of recycled polyester, they recommend washing their items (and any synthetic fibres) with a Guppyfriend Washing Bag (£25.99). This clever bag helps to prevent microfibres entering our waterways, and also helps extend the life of your clothing, as well as making a great gift for an environmentally conscious friend.  

Visit tentree to look the full range, where you can also sign up to the tentree mailing list and get 10% off your first order.  You can also follow along on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram.

Life & Style, Resources

How to Shop Online Ethically

traidcraft alternative to amazon
how to shop online ethically
This post contains affiliate links, denoted by *

The thought of battling through a busy high street isn’t always that appealing, particularly when you could shop from the comfort of your own home; a cosy cafe; or, perhaps more realistically for many of us, on the commute home.

Online shopping currently accounts for 17.1% of all UK retail, and despite what the headlines might lead us to believe, it isn’t all bad; particularly if you make your purchases via an ethical, internet-based, store.  Ethical Consumer have handily put together this guide for Moral Fibres readers on how to shop online ethically.

Don’t worry, be happy – online shopping

Amazon currently has a 33.5% market share of all the online shopping in the UK and it’s growing. The size and scale of their online operation, alongside store closures dubbed ‘the death of the high street’, seems to have helped typecast online retailers as the villains.

But look a little closer and there doesn’t appear to be much reason to view its bad ethics as a consequence of it selling online.

Consider before you click

The market for ethical goods is growing on- and off-line. In 2016, the ethical market was valued at £81.3 billion. Ethical Consumer rated 24 websites, which offer a variety of products marketed as ethical for its latest Ethical Online Retailer Guide. The shops rated were based on feedback from readers about which ethical online stores they regularly used.

There are ethical online stores for almost everything now; some sell food, others cosmetics, and some clothing or a combination of the three. Lots of them provide products under the label ‘gifts’ making them a perfect place to pick up presents for family and friends.

There are some key considerations to keep in mind to be sure you’re ethical online shop is just that.

The researchers at Ethical Consumer probed three key areas: company ethos; supply chain management; and animal testing, to help them create their Ethiscore rating.

1.  Ethical supply chains

Alternatives online to Amazon
Image c/o Traidcraft

Having clear policies about how to monitor supplier’s guarantees of workers’ rights is a key indicator in the Ethical Consumer Supply Chain Management rating. Companies such as Traidcraft, Oxfam*, Shared Earth and Amnesty did this through only sourcing ethically certified products e.g. fair trade. Others showed commitment to monitoring their suppliers against workers’ rights provisions. Nkuku, who sell homewares and lifestyle products ranging from photo frames to sofas, went further, stating that it carried out “unscheduled checks to ensure the fairtrade principles are maintained”.

Ethical Shop is a treasure trove of ethical products, from everyday cleaning products, to cosmetics, gifts and food. It had the clearest ethical buying policy, which included clear definitions of workers’ rights that suppliers had to meet. It requires suppliers to report progress on implementing their code annually either by describing actions taken or completing a questionnaire.

2.  Charity online

online alternatives to Amazon

Image c/o Sourced by Oxfam

When shopping and philanthropy combine, that’s surely a win-win combination? UK charities are stalwarts of the high-street, but many of them are now also hosting impressive online shopping sites that offer far more than the second-hand clothes and books they were traditionally associated with.

Many of them now source their own-brand products, which support the aims of the charity. Oxfam* offers consumers a chance to buy products that support projects that help people trade their way out of poverty. It also sells products that have been handcrafted or made by projects that specifically benefit women. 100% of its profits raised from sales of ‘Sourced by Oxfam’ are reinvested into the charity’s projects.

Animal rights charities Animal Aid and Viva! retail only vegan products, with everything on offer from vegan wines to soy candles.

3.  Animal Testing

alternatives to amazon
image c/o Acala

Cosmetics are a clear growth area in the ethical personal products category. New online stores like Acala, for example, specialise in natural, organic and vegan health and beauty products. It also ensures that all products are responsibly packaged and are plastic free.

Many of the companies reviewed sold cosmetics labelled as being cruelty-free, but there was a lack of definition over what this meant. The Ethical Consumer Animal Testing rating expects all companies retailing cosmetics to have a policy that includes a fixed cut-off date for animal-tested ingredients. Cruelty Free International explains: “A company’s fixed cut-off date is a date after which none of the substances in the products have been tested on animals. A fixed cut-off date enables a company to enforce their animal testing policy and gives suppliers a practical way to move away from animal testing.”

An example of best practise in this area was animal rights charity Animal Aid whose own brand products, made by Honesty Cosmetics, are approved under the Humane Cosmetics Standard and registered with the Vegan Society, with a 1976 fixed cut-off date (FCOD).

Why are we still using Amazon?

So why do so many consumers still turn to the likes of Amazon? A quick poll of Ethical Consumer followers provided answers; when you’re in a hurry, need something specialist, and price is a consideration, then finding an ethical alternative isn’t always that easy. So it’s worth remembering that whilst John Lewis* and Co-op Electrical Shop ranked lower down the latest Ethiscore table, they still score very highly compared to other online retailers, like Amazon.

And tech solutions might be just the thing to help counter the Amazon monopoly in the future. Keep an eye on Near St – it’s an app that only covers London at the moment, but they have plans to expand. Recognising that many people shop online because they can find the thing they want rather than ‘chancing it’ in a physical store, NearSt allows you to search for an item, find shops selling it, buy it and immediately collect it or have it couriered home.

For more ideas about how to make specialist online purchases for items like books and tablets, and other advice on how to shop online ethically check out the Amazon Alternatives guides at Ethical Consumer.