Governance

  • Can you give me details of all the links in your garments supply chain (enabled by tools such as Provenance, Caretrace, QR codes, String, Sourcemap or Cotton Connect)? 
  • Do you conduct detailed, regular and up-to-date reporting on your efforts to lower your environmental impact and drive worker health and safety measures throughout the supply chain? Where do you publish these reports?
  • What selection criteria and assessment processes do you have in place to ensure your suppliers commit to responsibly-produced garments and how do you monitor their compliance? What management systems do you have in place to monitor conditions and support improvements? 

Labour

  • If you produce in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Jordan, Haiti, Nicaragua or Lesotho, have you ensured that the factories making your goods participate in the International Labour Organization's (ILO) Better Work Programme? (For Cambodia this must include the ILO’s Better Work Programme's Advisory services).
  • Do you offer Human Resources Management (HRM) capacity-building programmes to your supply chain factories, such as the ILO Better Work Programme's Advisory services and/or training, ILO Score, Impact's Benefits for Business and Workers (BBW) programme, Fairwear, Taos, FIT5, or similar?
  • Do you sponsor or support (perhaps with other buyers from the factories) access for workers to helpline and mobile education services run by, or in partnership with local worker welfare focused Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) or the ILO?
  • Do you sponsor and/or encourage factories to participate in the Business for Social Responsibility’s HERProject, or similar projects by CARE, Phulki or other non-profits to increase gender equality in the factories? 
  • Have you worked with Sourcing and Business leadership to have graded (at least 1 - 5 levels), and rigorous factory labour compliance data entered into the sourcing/purchasing teams supplier/factory/vendor scorecards, and created mechanisms to incentivise and reward sourcing managers to place more orders in factories performing better on labour compliance?
  • Is the data you use to grade factories labour conditions rigorous? i.e. were audits conducted unannounced, by at least 2 auditors, with offsite worker interviewing, at least once per year? (This can be accomplished if reports are purchased from/contracted by the ILO Better Work Programme, Verite, Impact, and/or Fair Labor Association-approved auditors).
  • Does your brand partner with industry to use a collective voice in calling for industry changes in countries of your greatest production volumes? e.g. by active membership of the Bangladesh Accord for Worker Safety, the ILO Better Work Programme's Global Buyer Partner, the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) membership, and through signing letters to governments with partner brands in these initiatives whenever needed for workers’ rights.
  • Have you made a commitment to a living-wage benchmark by: conducting pilot programmes involving suppliers, trade unions and labour support groups; advocating for governments of sourcing countries to endorse minimum living wages; creating a roadmap with a concrete timeline for payment of a living wage? Can you evidence this?

Chemicals

  • Can you provide me with an inventory of all the chemicals used by all your suppliers, chemical-by-chemical, location-by-location?  
  • Can you assure me that you do not use, or have committed to phasing out by a certain date, all hazardous chemicals, particularly those on the EU’s ‘Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern’
  • Can you also assure me that your clothing does not contain any endocrine-disrupting chemicals as detailed on the International Chemical Secretariat’s ‘SIN’ list
  • Do you observe the Precautionary Principle and operate a mechanism for capturing new evidence about suspect chemicals and researching safer alternatives? 

Raw Materials

Cotton

  • Have you adopted an Integrated Pest Management Programme that uses a range of preventative and curative pest control techniques,  avoiding the need for synthetic pesticides?  
  • What Better Management Practices have you undertaken to extract or capture, retain or store, and transport and dispense of water efficiently, whether you are an irrigated or rain-fed farm?   
  • To restore, maintain and promote soil fertility, have you adopted minimal- or zero-tillage systems that use cover crops, crop residues and other natural inputs to help protect soil from erosion and promote good soil structure thereby avoiding the need for synthetic fertilisers? 
  • Can you assure me that none of the following are used in the processing and manufacturing of your cotton: toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde, aromatic solvents, functional nano particles, chlorine, azo dyes containing carcinogenic amine compounds, phthalates and PVC? 
  • Do you have an environmental policy on your efforts to minimise waste and discharges, as well as water and energy consumption, during cotton processing and manufacturing? 
  • Can you assure me that none of your cotton is sourced from Uzbekistan or Turkmenistan, where state-sponsored forced labour is endemic? 

Wool
[See Questions under ‘Mutton and lamb (and dairy)in the Food section]

  • Do you have an environmental policy on your efforts to minimise waste and discharges, as well as water and energy consumption, during wool processing and manufacturing? 
  • Are you compliant with the Global Organic Textile Standard’s (GOTS) restrictions and prohibitions of certain chemicals used in processing wool? 

Leather
[See Questions under 'Beef’ in the Food section]

  • Can you assure me that none of the following are used in the processing and manufacturing of your leather: toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde, aromatic solvents, functional nano particles, chlorine, azo dyes containing carcinogenic amine compounds, synthetic tannins, chrome, phthalates and PVC? 
  • Do you have an environmental policy on your efforts to minimise waste and discharges, as well as water and energy consumption, during leather processing and manufacturing in tanneries and factories? 

Wood-based fabrics (viscose and rayon)

  • Have you developed and implemented a strong wood-based fabrics procurement policy that means your products have not resulted in human rights abuses and the destruction of precious habitats? 

Synthetic fabrics

  • Do you use recycled polyester content in your polyester clothing, thereby reducing energy consumption, emissions and keeping Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) out of landfill?

Manufacturing

  • What infrastructure enhancements in your mills have been undertaken to improve: the efficiency of steam and hot water production; the functioning of the compressed air system; the reuse of water and leak prevention; and the recovery of condensation, cooling water, and heat?  
  • What innovations are your mills adopting in terms of improvements in automation of dyeing and printing processes, upgrades in equipment and dye recipes, and improvements in process management? 
  • What good housekeeping practices have been adopted in the mills, to reduce overall waste? 

Design

  • What are you doing to make your textiles more durable and versatile, so that they will last longer?  Can you offer a guarantee on any of your clothing? 
  • Have you designed your clothing so that it can be cleaned effectively at low temperatures, does not require dry cleaning  or ironing and dries quickly without the need for a tumble drier? 
  • What steps are you taking towards using reclaimed waste materials in your textiles – be they fibres from recycled yarns, polyester from recycled plastics, or upcycled fabric from unwanted factory surpluses, offcuts or from materials that would otherwise be thrown away?  
  • Are you looking at using lower-impact synthetic fabrics in your garments (for example, nylon and polyester have much lower carbon, waste and water footprints than cotton and wool)?  

Customer support

  • Do you provide sufficient information to customers about the provenance and impact of your garments? 
  • Do you offer advice to consumers about how to minimize the environmental impact of caring for your garments, e.g. washing at lower temperatures and air drying instead of tumble drying and ironing? 
  • Do you offer alteration services and provide information to customers about how to repair and alter clothes? 
  • Do you offer a buy-back scheme for used clothing for the purpose of re-fashioning or repairing clothes? 

Ask the Q