Do you shop your values?
Nowadays, almost everyone understands that manufacturing new things comes with a hefty environmental footprint. And, we’re aware that most of the stuff we buy is made overseas – often in sweatshops. So, why do people continue to buy things that were made in a way that harms other people and the planet? And, how can we convince others to shop their values?
Since Etiko was created back in 2005, founder Nick Savaidis has grappled with these questions. Getting people to commit to their values proved harder than he had initially imagined. And in the end, he realised it would take a multi-faceted approach and a community of supporters.
Here’s what Nick has learnt about getting people to shop their values and how you can help bring others onboard.
Ethical for many
Etiko aims to do minimal harm to people, animals and the environment. And, over the years, we’ve discovered that we attract various types of customers by holding our intentions of minimal-harm dear. From uni students to grandparents, our clientele is diverse, but they all have one thing in common: passion. The only variation is what they consider to be most important, but it’s always one of our three focus areas.
People: As a certified social enterprise, B Corporation and Fairtrade label, Etiko prioritises the people within its supply chains. From the cotton farmers to the manufacturing staff in our warehouses – Etiko aims to empower and uplift those people while supporting and enriching their communities.
To do this, we pay our workers a living wage, not just a government-sanctioned minimum wage. The difference can be as much as 200% in a place like Bangladesh. And, we pay a Fairtrade Premium on top of the manufacturing costs. The workers use this Premium to enhance their community however they deem best – that might mean improving local infrastructures like roads or water access, creating a food co-op or even a childcare centre.
Animals: Etiko has always been a vegan brand. We don’t use animal glues or leathers and instead focus on natural, biodegradable, plant-based materials. We avoid animal products because they’re simply not required for creating great products, and, of course, we don’t believe in causing harm to animals – ever.
Planet: We have one world with precious and finite resources, so Etiko takes responsible manufacturing seriously. This means considering the products we create from cotton seed to end-of-life.
We only use organically grown, natural and biodegradable textiles like cotton and hemp. We also avoid plastics (you won’t find plastic bags or polyester anywhere in our store) and offer a recycling program for clothing and footwear at the end of its lifecycle. Even the rubber in our thongs and sneakers is natural sustainably-farmed rubber as opposed to manufactured petroleum-derived rubber.
Quality and price matter
When creating Etiko, Nick knew it wasn’t enough to manufacture high-quality, ethical garments and footwear – they also needed to look good and be affordable. If the clothing cost too much, everyday shoppers would be priced out of the ethical fashion market, making large-scale change nearly impossible. Yet it simply costs more to create clothing ethically. The only solution then was to minimise profits. And that’s how Etiko clothing, footwear and apparel can be competitively priced with Australia’s leading brands that create similar products. We keep our profit margins low so more people can afford to shop their values.
It takes a village to change the world
Individual actions matter – what you choose to buy or eat, and the decisions you make daily have a significant impact on the world and other people. But, what’s even better than individual action is community action. And Etiko wouldn’t exist today if it weren’t for the support of our global village.
Whether you heard about Etiko via word of mouth or an ethical fashion app like Good On You – the community of eco-ethical fashion warriors lifts our brand daily. It’s that same community of people like you that pushes for systemic changes.
If you believe more people should shop their values, or you want to see legislated changes in fashion production, we encourage you to take steps to create change. Whether that means sharing your love of Etiko on social media, gifting our products to friends or writing letters to your MP or other non-ethical brands – get on it. Without people like you, nothing will change, and we’re thankful for the support you have offered us throughout our journey and continue to provide us with now.
Together, we can encourage more people to shop their values and create a better, brighter world for all.