At DoneGood, we want to help you find products and brands that do good for people and for the planet. A lot of people refer to that as “ethical shopping” or “sustainable shopping.” Those terms can encompass a lot, so for the sake of this page, let’s talk about ethical shopping primarily as buying a product that’s “good for the people who made it,” (we talk about products being “good for the planet” over here).
It’s no secret that in our globalized world, we usually have no idea where the products we buy are really coming from. Any given item we purchase can travel thousands of miles, through multiple cities and countries from design, to raw materials, to manufacturing, to finished product, and finally to us.
The companies that make our apparel, home goods, and electronics can outsource almost every step along the way—and they do. So for example, it's not like there are really "H&M factories" anywhere, instead H&M contracts with a bunch of other companies that own production factories, those companies subcontract with other companies that are making component parts (mills that create fabric, companies that make thread, zippers, buttons, etc), those companies subcontract with other suppliers (all the way down to the cotton farm, the mine producing metal for the zippers, etc.).
The lowest bidder usually gets the job so that companies can crank out cheaper mass-produced products. Once one company undercuts another's prices, everyone else wants to match or beat those prices. So the lowest bidder keeps bidding lower, until they’re charging prices that are unrealistically cheap (this is known as "the race to the bottom").
It’s not hard to see how human rights violations can happen here. When a farmer or factory has to produce a good for an unreasonably low cost, their hired workers pay the price. Especially in countries where labor laws are not enforced, sweatshops that pay low wages and provide unsafe working conditions become commonplace and human trafficking (modern day slavery, still a $140 billion a year global industry) and child labor are often utilized.
But the big brands who sell these products then claim to have plausible deniability. They are able to turn a blind eye to anything unsavory that might be happening in a third-party location at any point in their supply chains—after all, it’s not happening in "their" factories, warehouses, or farms; these abuses are occurring in some other companies factories.
We’ve seen the results of these unethical labor practices pop up sporadically throughout the years: protests over Nike’s human rights violations in the 90’s, the exposure of the world’s biggest chocolate brands using child labor, the Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013. But the sad truth is that these are just a fraction of the human rights violations that are happening around the world. If a fast fashion or other big brand isn’t actively working to keep sweatshops, unfair working conditions, child labor, and human trafficking out of their supply chains, human rights violations are probably occurring.
You don’t want to shop at a place like that. But what’s the alternative?
How It’s All Changing
At DoneGood, we think our global community deserves better, and we want you to be able to shop freely with a clean conscience. There are more and more businesses out there who are committed to paying fair wages, providing safe working conditions, eradicating child labor, and actively empowering their workers. We know you’d rather shop somewhere like that.
But we also know it can be difficult—and a little confusing—to find those places on your own. Because no store, brand, or business is going to outright say they use slave labor in their supply chain. Plenty of places say they “value fair labor,” or “ensure their workers are treated fairly,” or “have a code of conduct,” but few are willing to make sure their claims are backed up. They may ensure fair pay for “their” workers, but not for workers in a third-party factory in their supply chain; they may have a code of conduct, but not work very hard or invest much money to enforce it.
Ethical brands know that their claims mean nothing without transparency and accountability. That’s why they’re certified by third-party organizations that check up on them and their entire supply chain to make sure everything is above board. Organizations like B Corp, Fair Trade certifiers, and GOTS inspect and review various parts of a business’s supply chain; those certifiers—and more—are the ones that ethical businesses trust to keep them accountable.
How DoneGood Can Help
If you’re reading all this and thinking “Ugh...it sounds like a lot of research to find those brands,” you are right. It is a lot of research. But that's why we started DoneGood! We've done that research for you. We’ve done the work to find brands who are making amazing products and doing so ethically! These brands make sure they’re fairly employing and empowering their workers. Not only are they certified by organizations like the ones above, but they go above and beyond to make sure they are crazy transparent. They do things like publish their wages, have their garment workers sign the products they make, and post pictures of their factories on their website.
And the great thing is, these sorts of products tend to be higher quality and last longer too. A lot of the mass-produced, unethically made stuff you see out there might be crazy cheap, but it's also often shoddily made and breaks down quickly--so you have to buy more of it. So buying ethically is a better deal for you in the longrun, and better for the people making your products for you too.
If you’re looking to shop more ethically, you’ve come to the right place. Check out our marketplace for thousands of ethically-made products with one convenient checkout. And you can download our browser extension to find ethical alternative recommendations as you shop Amazon and other big stores and brands. Let us do the work for you while you kick back and do your online shopping with a clean conscience.