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HOW TO KNOW IF A BRAND IS ACTUALLY SUSTAINABLE?


Although today it seems an impossible mission to replace the renowned fast fashion, it’s true that there is a starting interest and tendency towards a responsible consumption. Luckily, the amount of people that make the so-called conscious purchase are more and more every day. From Labienhecha we give you a small guide that, according to us, gathers some aspects (we’re failing to mention many of them!) that a sustainable brand should meet or, at least, put it on the right path towards sustainability.

¿CÓMO SABER SI UNA MARCA ES SOSTENIBLE?

by Irene Hernández

April 24, 2020


This week we celebrate Fashion Revolution Week, a movement focuses on creating consciousness about the real cost of fashion, the importance of wondering who, where, how and in which conditions are made the clothes we wear. 

Why it’s so important to wonder about it? We can answer this question by looking back to April 24th 2013. That day, exactly six years ago, the fall of the building Rana Plaza in Bangladesh caused the death of more than one thousand workers of its textile factories. And that day is the origin of the Fashion Revolution movement.

Although today it seems an impossible mission to replace the renowned fast fashion, it’s true that there is a starting interest and tendency towards a responsible consumption. Luckily, the amount of people that make the so-called conscious purchase are more and more every day.

This can’t be but good news and a good sign, but it also becomes a double-edged weapon when words like eco, bio, sustainable… are used carelessly without thinking about what they really mean.

As consumers, which indicators should we take into account to be sure that we’re really making a responsible consumption? How can we know if a brand is actually sustainable?

Well, from Labienhecha we give you a small guide that, according to us, gathers some aspects (we’re failing to mention many of them!) that a sustainable brand should meet or, at least, put it on the right path towards sustainability.

WHAT QUESTIONS CAN BE HELPFUL TO KNOW IF A BRAND IS SUSTAINABLE?

1. Does it use sustainable materials?

Check if the brand you like uses recycled, biodegradable and certified materials. In short, materials whose fabrication, use or waste doesn’t imply a risk for the environment or considerably reduce its impact.

The main material used in Labienhecha is recycled leather. With this material, we manage to give a new life to the wastes of tanneries and the industry in general, and we also avoid a highly polluting process as the burning of these residues. No to mention those cases in which leather wastes are not burned and they end up in rivers, seas… Also, it enjoys Oeko Tex Leather Standard certification, among others.

2. Where and how?

The perfect picture is betting for a brand that does a local and own production. This is a good sign that, on the one hand, allows contributing to activate local economy. On the other hand, the fact of reducing intermediaries and working with local suppliers allows reducing shipments and, therefore, CO2 emissions.

Even if at Labienhecha we think that the best option is to bet for a local production, the fact that a brand doesn’t do it doesn’t mean that it’s not choosing a sustainable business model. You just need to look a bit further.

You can also wonder if the brand you like is creating local jobs and, therefore, it’s contributing to activate local economy. That helps to encourage, among other things, the decentralization of the economy, which is something very positive for everybody.

3. What is the production process?

It’s not the same betting for an artisanal brand that for an industrial brand. Why? Because, besides putting in value —in a social-cultural sense— traditional techniques, betting for options like artisanal work allows lower energy consumption.

To us, a brand that works in an artisanal and controlled way, it also offers a product with soul, against products that are made in a massive way without any care.

4. People involved in the brand have favorable working conditions?

The concept of sustainability goes way beyond the material, and implies guaranteeing decent work for all the people involved. It’s essential that we, as consumers, ask ourselves: who, where and how. Rejecting all types of discrimination and force labors, as well as supporting and protecting the compliance of workers’ rights and human rights all in all are essential signs of sustainability.

Even if many of you are already conscious of all this, we’re sure that you would be surprised if you knew that a large part of the garments we wear are made by children or people in really bad conditions.

5. That brand you like can prove traceability and transparency with what says and does?

A sustainable brand should have control of all the hands involve in its goods, from the source material to the final product. Besides, it should also have the ability of being transparent about this information.

By transparent we mean to know the people behind, knowing the work places in which the production is done, being capable of answering all kind of questions.

We value a lot the closeness, that is to say: is the brand you like accessible? Can you easily contact with them? Do they answer all your questions?

6. Does this brand avoid the “use and throw” concept?

All of this attends to what we know as circular economy, that leaving behind the “use and throw” concept, it bets for “closing the circle of life” of products, materials, resources,… So that the value of all of them remains in the economy as much as possible.

This also achieves the reduction of wastes. A way of supporting circular economy is betting for quality and long-lasting products.

7. Does it have a coherent price philosophy?

The truth is that a product with a very low price, implies a very high cost somewhere in the process, whether in relation to the materials used or to labor (or both). The fact of not reducing costs in these senses with the aim of meeting some ethical and sustainable values means having lower profit margins in most cases.

We hardly see a sustainable brand participating in massive sales because of this reasons and also because this encourages the opposite of a responsible consumption.

For example, because of COVID-19, we are offering 25% discount and this means not having any profit margin at all. But, with this, we’re at least guaranteeing the ethical and sustainable values of our brand.

8. Does this brand practice social commitment and responsibility?

At this point we can include aspects as important as respecting the fair trade principles, encouraging gender equality, undertaking the integration of disadvantaged groups as well as supporting non profit initiatives and organizations.

But the social commitment and responsibility of a brand goes beyond that. Without going any further, we should only see how the brand responds to a situation such as COVD-19, and value its level of commitment and responsibility according to the decisions made.

As you already know, we decided from the beginning to close our facilities and not make any shipment because of a matter of social commitment and responsibility.

It’s a decision that we’ve made because of social responsibility that, without any doubt, damages the project, means a brutal drop of sales and puts in danger our continuity. But despite all of this, we think that the companies are assets that should set an example of social behavior.

9. Does it have an environmental policy?

Establishing an environmental policy aimed to find the best way to relate with the environment and natural resources, will allow minimizing the damaging environmental impact.

Companies should get their act together to improve their environmental policies.

10. Does this brand meet half or more of this aspects we’re talking about?

Then, we can say that it’s actually a brand that is moving forward in its way to sustainability.


Probably, absolute sustainability doesn’t exist and there will always be factors to improve, but commitment to make efforts to keep improving in this sense, add points when it comes to establish the level of sustainability of a project. 

At Labienhecha we take very seriously our commitment with sustainability at all levels. We know that we must always look for further improvements, choose the most sustainable option and keep following a path that would lead us to support a sustainable development.

We believe that sharing, communicating and creating consciousness around sustainability is a collective mission to make this a fight and a goal for everybody. Knowing more the meaning of responsible consumption is essential not to fall into the so-called greenwashing. And, beware, we know that sometimes falling into greenwashing isn’t intentioned, but can come from a lack of information.

That’s why, we hope that this mini-guide can help you decide which brands or projects are sustainable or not and, in any case, we are here for everything you need.

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