In April 2019 Ethical Consumer sent One Village a questionnaire requiring information on the company's environmental policy, among other issues. In May 2019 Ethical Consumer sent the company an email with additional questions. For its environmental policy the company referred to its working principles and contractual obligations of suppliers as stated in its order endpage. No further information was found on its website.
Working principle 5 of One Village stated that materials and processes were selected with regard to their environmental impact. The contract endpage cautioned suppliers to “Be environmentally aware! Avoid polluting land and water systems”. The company explained in its questionnaire that its premises are powered by its own solar array plus electricity from a producer of 100% renewable energy, that it used only LED lighting and that its heat was collected from infrared panels.
An environmental policy was deemed necessary to report on a company's environmental performance and set targets for reducing its impacts in the future. A strong policy would include two future, quantified environmental targets, demonstration by the company that it had a reasonable understanding of its main environmental impacts, be dated within the two years and have its environmental data independently verified.
One Village did not meet any of these criteria and was not considered to provide environmental alternative products. It therefore received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for Environmental Reporting and lost a full mark under this category.

Reference:

One World Best Buy Questionnaire (28 April 2019)

In April 2019 Ethical Consumer sent One Village a questionnaire and in May 2019 additional questions requiring information on the company's use of the following animal products: leather, silk, fur, merino wool, angora and down (feathers). No answers to the relevant questions were received. In May 2019 Ethical Consumer viewed One Village’s website. It found no policies on the use of these animal products. It also found that the company sold leather sandals, tassar silk cushion covers and feather-filled cushions. In May 2019, Ethical Consumer asked One Village for more information on the production processes used for these products.

Leather
The company answered that it has a policy to not introduce new leather products, "mostly because of animal welfare concerns". The sandals with leather components sold on its website were "a leftover from... before we introduced the ‘no-leather’ policy". The company continued to sell this line as it is "a traditional product [made] by some of the so-called lowest-caste people in India [and we] don’t want to stop our existing support of them". For its use of leather as a non-substantial part of its business the company lost half a mark under Ethical Consumer’s Animal Rights category.

It also lost half a mark under the Pollution and Toxics category for the following reason. Leather, as the hide of a dead animal, naturally decomposes. To prevent this decomposition the leather industry uses a cocktail of harmful chemicals to preserve leather, including trivalent chromium sulphate, sodium sulphide, sodium sulfhydrate, arsenic and cyanide. Tannery effluent also contains large amounts of other pollutants, such as protein, hair, salt, lime sludge and acids. These can all pollute the land, air and water supply, making it a highly polluting industry.

Silk
Silk was considered to be an animal rights issue, as the conventional process of harvesting silk involved heat-treating cocoons before metamorphosis occurred to prevent damage to the silk fibres. This heat treatment resulted in the deaths of the silk worm larvae inside. An alternative to conventional silk was 'peace' or 'vegetarian' silk so called because the silk is harvested after the caterpillars have developed and hatched into moths. One Village stated that only one of its cushion covers lines was made of silk. The silk used was "forest silk that is... extracted deep in the forests of Odisha according to very old traditions". The online shop described the silk as "Tasar wild silk" and "wild silk from the Orissa forests. Handloom woven in Golpalpur village." The company did not believe that heat-treatment was used to extract the silk fibres. However, Victoria and Albert documentary, "How Was It Made? Cultivating Tasar Silk", available on YouTube showed that Tasar silk is made by reeling full threads from cocoons, which requires heat-treating the cocoons. Leaving the moth to exit the cocoon naturally, as is usual in 'peace' silk, would have meant the thread could not be unwound as a whole, which produced lower-grade silk. Ethical Consumer therefore assumed the silk used was produced conventionally whereby silk worms are killed. The company therefore lost a half a mark in the Animal Rights category.

Feathers (down)
According to campaign group Four Paws, animal suffering from the live plucking and force-feeding of geese and ducks was present in the general down supply chains. In order to avoid these practices, a company was expected to adopt a standard that would trace and audit their whole supply chain, including higher-risk parent farms, to ensure such cruelties were excluded. Four Paws had found that certificates and audit reports from suppliers themselves 'do not provide sufficient guarantees that animals have a cruelty free life.' The feathers One Village used in its cushion pads were a by-product of ducks farmed for consumption in Germany and therefore did not come from ducks that were plucked alive. Force-feeding animals was prohibited under the German Animal Rights act. The company was considered to have a sufficient down-standard and was not marked down for the use of feathers under Ethical Consumer’s Animal Rights category.

Reference:

One World Best Buy Questionnaire (28 April 2019)

In April 2019 Ethical Consumer sent One Village requiring information on the company's cotton sourcing policy, among other issues. In May 2019 Ethical Consumer sent the company an email with additional questions.
In its answers One Village said that:
• The company and its partners were aware of the situation of cotton production in Uzbekistan. Its partners had confirmed to One Village that they were confident they were avoiding cotton produced in Uzbekistan and it was against their policy to source products originating in places or systems regarded as unethical. It would, however, be difficult to say with absolute certainty that some of its partners in Bangladesh who bought raw cotton in the marketplace did not buy cotton produced in Uzbekistan.
• Some of the company’s cotton was organically grown. The company would have preferred to be 100% organic, but found that using the more expensive organic cotton made some products unsaleable. It also considered that sourcing organic cotton in some instances involved haulage issues that would undo the environmental benefits of using organic cotton.
• The company did not have a policy on the use of GM crops but all its partners were aware of the social and environmental problems related to cotton and actively sought to do right.
• The company used quite small quantities of cotton. A search of its online shop, however, showed that cotton was used in many of its textile products.

The company was considered to have a sufficiently strong policy against sourcing cotton from Uzbekistan and lost no marks in the Workers Rights category.

The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales. Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in non-organic cotton production worldwide the company lost half a mark in the Pollution & Toxics category.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017. Due to the prevalence of GM cotton in cotton supply chains and the lack of any evidence that the company avoided it, it was assumed that some of the company's cotton products contained some GM material. As a result it lost half a mark under the Controversial Technology category.

Reference:

One World Best Buy Questionnaire (28 April 2019)

In April 2019 Ethical Consumer sent One Village requiring information on the company's company's policy on the use of the hazardous chemicals in its production processes, among other issues. In May 2019 Ethical Consumer sent the company an email with additional questions.

In its answers One Village said that it did not use artificial chemicals in its personal care products with explicit confirmation that it did not use parabens, triclosan and phthalates in any of its products. For its textile products it only accepted AZO-free dyes. Suppliers used hydro-peroxide to bleach cotton, which the company considered "harmless".

The company therefore received best Ethical Consumer rating for toxic chemicals.

Reference:

One World Best Buy Questionnaire (28 April 2019)

In April 2019 Ethical Consumer sent One Village requiring information on the company's policy on timber sourcing, among other issues. In May 2019 Ethical Consumer sent the company an email with additional questions.
In its answers, the company stated that:
• Timber in its products came from approved government sources and [was] duly licensed or was lower-grade wood which falls outside regulation.
• Its suppliers replanted more than they consumed.
• The company sold wooden articles from Indonesia, which according to the online shop were made of hardwood. In its additional answers, One Village stated this was Albizia wood, which is a very fast-growing tree to the extent that “in some places it is considered a nuisance because it grows so fast everywhere”. The company purchased this timber from a government source, which certified the wood before One Village could import it.
• The company also sold timber articles from northern India, which according to the online shop were made of rose wood. The company said that the producer had switched to mango wood, “which is not on any environmental protection list”, and that the rose wood products were final stock items.
The cedarwood used in some of the company’s lampshades was “very rough waste offcuts”.

A search of its online shop showed that the company also sold hand made wrapping paper, paper cards, and handmade paper lampshades. In its answers, the company stated that there was “no proper ‘wood’ in the cards”. An attached information sheet about the company’s ‘Hiwire’ cards from Kenya showed that the paper was made from invasive water hyacinth that “needs to be removed from [Lake Victoria]”.

Ethical Consumer's timber sourcing ranking required companies scoring a 'best' to cover six of the below issues:
1. Having a timber sourcing policy that covers all timber and timber-derived products
2. the exclusion of illegal timber or that sourced from unknown sources and...
3. ...a discussion on how a company ensures/ implements this
4. clear targets for sourcing timber from sustainably managed sources
5. a discussion of a good minimum standard
6. preference given to certified sources
7. a discussion about tropical hardwoods (THW) and the percentage of THW sourced that are FSC certified
8. involvement with a multi-stakeholder initiative or bridging programme such as the World Wildlife Fund - Global Forest Trade Network
9. use of reclaimed or recycled wood/ paper
10. a high total percentage (50%+) of FSC certified timber sourced by the company.
Ethical Consumer did not consider government certification a sufficient guarantee that wood was sourced and managed sustainably. One Village received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for timber sourcing policy due to the fact it only met criteria 1 and 6.

Reference:

One World Best Buy Questionnaire (28 April 2019)

In May 2019 Ethical Consumer searched One Village’s website for its palm oil sourcing policy. It found that all palm oil, used in its soap, was sourced from independently-owned smallholdings belonging to farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India. The palm oil was grown on low-grade soil “said to be not suitable for much else”. The oil was processed at an Andhra Pradesh government plant, which bought from and supported the independent growers.

Although the company did not have a formal palm oil policy or reporting, it appeared to be addressing the three key issues with palm oil production: the environmental, human rights and habitats risks. Ethical Consumer would have liked to see formal evidence of its palm oil practices. However, as it appeared to have effective if not explicit practice in place for its palm oil sourcing, it received Ethical Consumer's best rating for palm oil sourcing overall.

Reference:

www.onevillage.org (15 May 2019)