Ethical fashion and beauty can be interpreted in a multitude of ways and the standards of what is ethical varies from company-to-company and person-to-person. This qualifier generally means that the product is made in a way that is better for the workers and/or the environment. Not using or abusing animals in the process can also be an attribute of ethical fashion and beauty. Companies are often transparent with consumers about their standards in one area, such as improved working conditions and pay for workers, but are not as clear or stringent with other aspects of their business. However, there are companies that do not require a consumer to compromise their principles in any area.
The Ethical Fashion Forum has established a set of 10 criteria for a brand to be considered ethical fashion. The criteria consists of supporting sustainable livelihoods, developing eco-friendly fabrics, and more. The fashion industry as a whole has a long way to go in improving business standards but there have been several recent successes and even mainstream companies are becoming more transparent with consumers. For suggestions on ethical fashion companies, please check out Brands to Know.
The beauty industry is not as apt to use the term ethical, they have instead adopted sustainable, natural, vegan, etc… to describe their products. Beauty brands that take this approach commonly promote that their ingredients are healthier or better than mainstream products. There are also large cosmetic companies that have begun using elements of sustainability or do not test on animals. The Good Shopping Guide has a small ethical comparison of some well-known brands. Unfortunately, the beauty industry trails behind fashion in establishing a set of standards for all companies to follow and meet. There is also very little published information about how ingredients are sourced for cosmetic products.
To learn more about the current conditions of the fashion and cosmetics industry and how you can make a difference, please visit the Resources page.
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