Support the little guy
Most of the companies on the scoretable are small, family-run businesses who have close, long-standing relationships with their suppliers. Some of them are organic and Fairtrade pioneers, without whose dedication, years ago, we wouldn’t be able to buy such niche products in our supermarkets today. Although organic and Fairtrade products bought from big chains are a good next-best option when you need something in a hurry, we would always suggest that you support these small businesses first. Their entire business models are often created around the desire to do business better. Meanwhile, supermarkets et al are based on the stack-em-high-sell-em-cheap model, which is unsustainable to its very core.
The rise and rise of the refashionista
With public awareness of ethical issues on the high street at an all-time high, more and more clothes-lovers are trying their hand at DIY. If you disagree with the fast fashion business model, why not arm yourself with the skills to make clothes yourself, and liberate yourself from the sheep-like trends of the fashion world?
The best way to learn is to just get stuck in. But if you don’t have the kit, or are a bit nervous, there are now a huge array of courses available in independent venues all over the UK, which cater for all abilities and cover subjects as diverse as dyeing clothes with seasonal plants (Here Today, Here Tomorrow), zip and button-hole sewing, knicker-making and more. Better still, many of these venues ply you with delicious food and drink while you learn – some including alcohol, but watch those fingers!
Here is just a small selection of the workshops and courses available:
Drink, Shop, Do (London) 0203 343 9138
Here Today, Here Tomorrow (London)
The Makery (Bath) 01225 421175
The School of Sewing (Leicestershire) 01530 416300
Little Owl Creations (Warwickshire)
Stitched Up (Manchester)
World of Rags to Bitches (Manchester) 07708 093 083
If sewing isn’t your thing, skills like knitting, crochet and quilting are all enjoying a resurgence. Stitch ‘n’ Bitch is a worldwide community of knitting groups. Find one near you or set one up and register it at www.stitchnbitch.org. There are bound to be similar events in your area.
If you already have plenty of sewing-based skills, why not set up your own social event or workshop? They’re a great way to meet people and share skills.
Ecomodo provides a platform for you to lend and borrow each other’s everyday objects, skills and spaces such as sewing machines or knitting classes.
School of Everything helps you find local teachers, lessons and classes in all subjects, including sewing, and you can list yourself too.
More of an online socialiser? You can share your clothing refashion projects with an online community from around the world at Burdastyle.com and Refashionco-op.blogspot.com is another online community for sharing sewing skills, patterns, or finished garments.
Swap and charity shop
As always, we’re recommending eBay, charity shops and ‘swishes’ (clothes swaps – of which there are now many), as a cheap, sustainable alternative to shopping for new clothes.
Find something near you with these handy websites:
Edun is a brand set up by U2 vocalist Bono and his wife, with the aim of increasing trade with Africa. LVMH, a huge designer wear and wines and spirits company, bought a 49% stake in the company in 2009. As a result, Edun’s score drops from 14.5 when we last rated it, to 5 (or 6 with the positive product sustainability mark for their organic products). This is due to LVMH’s negative marks across most of our ratings categories.
Kuyichi and Earth Collection fail to fulfil Ethical Consumer’s more extensive requirements for larger companies on environmental and social reporting, hence their lower positions on the table.