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Ethical purchasing of cotton clothing and bags

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31 August 2014

Clothing manufacturing can have a negative impact on local environments as it entails bleaching and dyeing and can create a hazardous polluting discharge to waterways leaving communities without safe drinking water. Workers who produce the clothing can also suffer with low pay, lack of rights and appalling conditions.


When purchasing cotton items such as clothing and bags we strongly encourage teams to purchase cotton products that carry an independent certification mark guaranteeing that producers have received a fair and stable price, an additional premium to invest in community or business development and that specified environmental standards have been met. Where certification is not available, other evidence of meeting the requirement will be required.




Will products made with a certification mark cost more?

Some products are aimed at premium markets and will inevitably be more highly priced than others but many products are competitively priced and don’t necessarily cost more than their conventional equivalents. There appears to be little correlation between price and ethics in the cotton and textile industry. Cotton products on sale in the UK already vary considerably in price depending on a range of factors including where you buy them, their quality, branding, designer labels as well as economies of scale. A typical T‐shirt made from Fairtrade certified cotton may not be the cheapest on the market, but it does mean that shoppers can be confident that the cotton farmers have received a price that provides a decent income and a little extra to invest in a better future for their families and communities.


Where can I purchase Certified cotton products?

Many companies now supply fairly traded cotton products but please contact a member of the Procurement team for further details.


Further information;

• Anglia Ruskin Fairtrade Policy

• Fairtrade Foundation with details on retailers who sell Fairtrade cotton products   

• EAUC guidance on environmental factors to consider when purchasing clothing  

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