Fast fashion – places like H&M and Zara, for example – are as popular as they ever have been. But are they ethical? One Australian-made app called Good on You (free, available on iOS and Android) is trying to find out.
Why? Well, Good on You CEO and founder Gordon Renouf really gets to the heart of the matter, noting “Fashion is an industry that has a big impact on the environment, labour rights and animals, and is said to be the second most polluting industry in the world.” And he’s right – it’s second only to the oil industry. These are fairly grim statistics, which is why Good on You exists. It wants to help you understand which companies treat their employees well, which are contributing to increasing pollution rates and which have fair trade certification.
The goal is to give you, the consumer, an informed choice. You decide which clothes you want to wear, and if you’re concerned about the ethical implications of cheap, trendy clothing, then this app will help you whittle down a mall-sized selection of shops into a handful of favourites.
So far, the app team has rated 3,000 brands, ranging from accessories like footwear to clothing. Each brand is given a rating of “great,” “good,” “it’s a start,” “not good enough” and “we avoid.” The ratings are determined by looking through public records – the Good on You team checks to see if brands have accreditation from Fair Trade or the Global Organic Textile Standard, and it will determine if companies have elected to join self-enforced trade agreements, like the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety. The more a brand participates, the better the score.
H&M, for example, is rated “it’s a start,” partly because the brand does not readily disclose the source of its leather (outside of the answer, “animals”). Nike is similarly rated, except its mid-range rating is a result of the brand’s struggle to balance cost and worker safety in Bangladesh.
If you value some practices over others, you can set your preferences to reflect that. This way, the app will only show you shops that meet your personal interests.
Now we’ll ask you again. How ethical are your clothes?