Author Archives: Katrine Karlsen

TEST YOURSELF// ETI- NORWAY launches new tool “A Practitioner’s Guide To Ethical Trade”


Does ethical responsibly apply to me? How do I start? How do I identify the risks in my supply chain? Can I really make a difference?

Here at SA we say that the answer to all the above is YES!

The idea of ethical and environmental practice can be daunting to many, however with the right tools the process of identification and implementation of ethical practices can be rewarding. Thus, help change the course of unethical practices in supply chains.

The Ethical Trading Initiative – Norway  (ETI-Norway) recently launched “A Practitioner’s Guide To Ethical Trade”,a new tool to assist businesses implement tf ethical practices. Per Bondevik, Managing Director of ETI -Norway explains that:

“We have developed this guide in order to show that ethical trade is doable and that it also yields results,even for small and medium-sized enterprises. It’s really just a matter of getting started.”

Among many aspects the guide provides information and guidance about: 

– Ensure commitment to ethical trade in the company and its supply chain

– Ensure company-wide commitment, plan and organise the work

– Communication with suppliers

– Risk assessment in the supply chain

– Purchasing Practices

– Collaborative approach to making improvements

– Measuring performance, reporting and communicating

–  E stablish key performance indicators

– D ocument progress and challenges

– C ommunicate results and challenges

– Test yourself

The test your self section provides a simple yes/no questionnaire and is very useful in order to identify if ethical practices is relevant for you.

Whether you’re a tutor, student or a business professional, this guide gives a good explanation as to how ethical practices must be integrated and structured within an organisation and can be useful in education and as a tool to analyse how  different companies work with such challenges within their value chain.

Source: ETI -Norway


Recycling Textile Technologies//London// 14th June 2010

A one-day workshop from 9am to 5pm, on June 14th 2010
To be held at the Pearson North Lecture Theatre, University College London

Waste is a valuable, yet often little understood, resource that may be used to subvert and reconfigure moral, legal, social and political boundaries in the pursuit of livelihoods and business success. Textile recyclers have developed a range of socio-technological practises to enable material transformations to take place that often remain invisible to those studying modern economies. This one-day interdisciplinary workshop brings together researchers working on textile recycling across disciplines and sectors, including anthropologists, geographers, historians, designers, waste consultants and consumer researchers. Through this exchange we hope to develop a greater understanding of the underlying relationships between people and things, raw materials and technologies, the emergence of entrepreneurs and innovators in social networks, and their contextual variations. For further details, please see the Call for Papers.


  • Beverly Lemire, University of Alberta, Canada
  • Olumide Abimbola, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Germany
  • Karen Tranberg Hansen, Northwestern University, USA
  • B. Lynne Milgram, Ontario College of Art and Design, Canada
  • Julie Botticello, UCL, United Kingdom
  • Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Tone Skardal Tobiasson, Charlotte Bik Bandlien and Kirsi Laitala, SIFO (NICE), Norway
  • Nicholas Morley, Oakdene Hollins, United Kingdom
  • Pammi Sinha and Kanchana Dissanayake, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Lucy Norris, UCL, United Kingdom

Lucy Norris and Julie Botticello, Dept of Anthropology, UCL

The registration fee covers refreshments and lunch with vegetarian options.
Waged: £25 and Unwaged: £18

Please contact Julie Botticello on to reserve your place. The deadline for registration is 7th of June 2010.


  9.40 – 10.00     Registration & Coffee (in the North Cloisters)

10.00 – 10.10     Welcome: Danny Miller; Introduction: Lucy Norris and Julie Botticello

Session 1: Building networks and breaking boundaries

Chair: Danny Miller

10.10 – 10.40     Beverly Lemire, Textile Networks and Textile Meanings: the European Secondhand Trade in Historical Perspective, c. 1600-1850

10.40 – 11.10     Julie Botticello, Negotiating Status and Value: Processing Rags for Global Export.

11.10 – 11.40     Lynne Milgram, Mobilizing Livelihood, Centering Margins: Women and the Transnational Hong-Kong Philippine Used Clothing Trade

11.40 – 12.00     Coffee Break (in the North Cloisters)

Chair: Nicky Gregson

12.00 – 12.30     Karen Tranberg Hansen, From Family Business to International Empire: Global Networks in Secondhand Clothing Trading

12.30 –   1.00     Olumide Abimbola, Igbo Trade Networks and Secondhand Clothing

  1.00 –   1.15     Discussion

  1.15 –   2.00     Lunch (in the North Cloisters)

Session 2: The return of recycling technologies

Chair: Dinah Eastop

  2.00 –   2.30     Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Tone Skardal Tobiasson, Charlotte Bik Bandlien, Reinventing Old Solutions t0 New Problems?

  2.30 –   3.00     Nick Morley, Pulp Fiction? Re-innovating Paper Manufacture from Textiles

  3.15 –   3.30     Coffee Break (in the North Cloisters)

Chair: Susanne Küchler

  3.30 –   4.00     Pammi Sinha, Kanchana Dissanayake, Local Knowledge and Skills in Remanufacturing Fashion

  4.00 –   4.30     Lucy Norris, Remains or Resource? Alternative perspectives on dirt and the success of used clothing transformations in India.

  4.30 –   5.00     Final discussion

Check out the Journal of Material Culture for their contribution to the workshop. The event is taking place as part of the Waste of the World programme funded by the Economic and Social Research Council

Source: UCL Department of Anthropology

Sick Water? A new report from UNEP

“Sick water? The central role of wastewater management in sustainable development” not only identifies the threats to human and ecological health and the consequences of inaction, but also presents opportunities, where appropriate policy and management responses over the short and longer term can trigger employment, support livelihoods, boost public and ecosystem health and contribute to more intelligent water management.”

Transforming wastewater from a major health and environmental hazard into a clean, safe and economically-attractive resource is emerging as a key challenge in the 21st century.


It is a challenge that will continue to intensify as the world undergoes rapid urbanization, industrialization and increasing demand for meat and other foods unless decisive action is taken says a new United Nations report released today. Urban populations are projected to nearly double in 40 years, from current 3.4 billion to over six billion people – but already most cities lack adequate wastewater management due to aging, absent or inadequate sewage infrastructure.


What is wastewater?

Wastewater is a cocktail of fertilizer run-off and sewage disposal alongside animal, industrial, agricultural and other wastes. 

The report says that the sheer scale of dirty water means more people now die from contaminated and polluted water than from all forms of violence including wars. Dirty water is also a key factor in the rise of de-oxygenated dead zones that have been emerging in seas and oceans across the globe.

Yet many of the substances that make wastewater a pollutant – for example nitrogen and phosphorus – can also be useful as fertilizers for agriculture. Wastewater can also generate gases to fuel small power stations or be used for cooking.

 The report notes that already some 10 per cent of the world’s population is being supplied with food grown using wastewater for irrigation and fertilizer and with better management and training of farmers this could be increased substantially.

The report, launched to coincide with World Water Day, goes so far as to say that the concentration of nutrients in wastewater “could supply much of the nitrogen and much of the phosphorous and potassium normally required for crop production. Other valuable micro-nutrients and organic matter contained in the effluent would also provide benefits”.

The full report can be found here.

  So how can you/we contribute to change this disturbing development?

That was our first though. As Mary’s post on the World Water Day on Monday presented us with some worrisome facts, it fuels the drive to contribute to positive change even more through responsible design.  

Mary mentioned the ecessive use of water resources to produce cotton – there is yet another challenge.

What about all the highly toxic chemicals from pesticides, tanneries and material development which, in a large number of developing countries, leak int the scares water resources and the eco-systems of the local community surrounding the production site?

We want your throughts on this problem – so either leave a comment or send us an email.

Source: UNEP, Sick Water?

Sometimes it is the simplest ideas that can change the world!

Your Green Idea (M&S, 2010)

As a part of M&S’s ambitious Plan A scheme they are looking for the ultimate green idea. As consumers we are always on the look out for better shopping experiences and if it is beneficial to our planet it is even better.

On their Plan A website M&S says: “Working with our customers over the last couple of years, our Oxfam Clothes Exchange has recycled 4 million garments, our bag-charging scheme has saved 600 million bags and we’ve reused or recycled 350 million coat hangers. But that’s only the beginning.”

Now M&S is looking for your green ideas.

So get your thinking cap on. Next time you’re in M&S think about a way our customers can shop for the better. You could use our ideas as inspiration or come up with your own. Think green, but think big. And here’s a thought – if your brainwave is picked as the ultimate green idea it could be seen by 21 million people every week at over 700 M&S stores. And, what’s more, you could win £100,000 for your favourite organisation to spend on their green initiative. It could be for a school, local community project, a small business or charity… it’s up to you.
You’re the brains.

This is a great opportunity, regardless of  your background, to have a positive impact on the future of consumerism.

More details about the competition can be found here.

Source: M&S Plan A website.

Slave Nation – The State of the Cotton Sector In Uzbekistan

Cotton Picking in Uzbekistan - Environmental Justice Foundation 2010

A new report released 22nd February 2010 by the Environmental Justice Foundation exposes how cotton production in the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan remains one of the most exploitative enterprises in the world.

“Slave Nation” EJF’s reveals how the Government of Uzbekistan continues to lie to the international community while routinely compelling hundreds of thousands of children as labourers in the country’s annual cotton harvest.

With evidence that little has changed despite the promises of the Uzbek Government and with the spring planting season just around the corner, EJF asks whether it will be children forced to pick the crop again when the harvest comes around later this year.

The report can be found here.

You can also read Nadira’s stories on forced and child labour in the  Uzbek cotton sector here.

Summary of the CSR – Asia Summit 2009

CSR Asia 2009

Panel Disucssion: Karamjit Singh (Editor, The Edge), Dato’ Yusli Mohammed Yusoff (Chief Executive Officer, Bursa Malaysia) and Richard Welford ( Chairman CSR Asia)

27th-28th October 2009 CSR – Asia held its 7th summit “Sustainable Business as the Road to Recovery” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  on the most cutting edge CSR issues facing businesses in these turbulent times of trading. 

As I came to the conference with a fashion background, with knowledge of the direct implications CSR has on the textile and apparel industry, my perspectives and knowledge was over the course of two intense days challenged and greatly advanced.

 I therefore want to share with you some of the main topics and issues which were discussed throughout the summit.

 Richard Welford, Chairman of CSR – Asia kicked off the summit by highlighting what the recession has meant for CSR.

He started out by stating that “as many business leaders as well as other stakeholders and the general society assumed that the “trend” of ethical business practises would subside as a result of the recession they were wrong!  As it is now is more relevant than ever”.

He supported this by explaining how the recession has put a stronger focus on irresponsible business practises, which has resulted in consumers now demanding and expecting companies to take responsibility for how they make their money with transparency being key.

 CSR is also stronger than it was a year ago there has been budget increases within some CSR departments. However others have seen cuts in accordance with other departments as businesses have been hit by the recession.

 Further Richard announced the publication of Asian Sustainability Rating™ on www.csr-asia.comwhich provides an indepth assessment of CSR related disclosure of 200 of the largest companies across ten countries in Asia.

 In the panel discussion which followed where Richard Welford, Dato’ Yusli Mohammed Yusoff (Chief Executive Officer, Bursa Malaysia) and Karamjit Singh (Editor, The Edge) agreed that CSR will determine the winners and losers in the aftermath of the recession. A W recovery was predicted which was underpinned with the importance of companies looking internally for their competitive edge to enhance their brand reputation.

One issue, which was a coherent throughout the whole summit, was the importance of stakeholders.

Richard concluded the panel discussion by specifying “You cannot do CSR without stakeholder engagement and community investment”.

 Terence Lyons from Augure held a session on the future of stakeholder engagement. He stressed the importance of identifying your stakeholders within your value chain through an actionable framework. Further he provided a model of how to convince board of directors to provide recourses to CSR. One has to have a compelling story, position the big picture and then tie the big picture.

Ever heard about naked CSR? Well I had not, or at least until Ashley Hegland from Edelman explained the power and influence of viral marketing. As our generation is far more exposed to and engaged in opportunities of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, blogging ect the slightly older generations (which normally are CEOs) are now identifying the potential and opportunities which the interactive media can have on their businesses.

Viral marketing is a great tool for companies to use to engage stakeholders with their CSR practices.

I was lucky to meet Allison Murry, former Head of Responsibility at T-Mobile which explained how T – Mobile created an interactive website where:

We want your help to design new mobile applications that will help tackle a social or environmental issue we all care about. 

Everyone can get involved by helping us choose the issues to focus on and share ideas for mobile applications. We then look into turning the ideas into mobile apps that will be launched for people to use that have a real impact. 

 Allison then told me about the first application they launched which was the:

Recycle Guide – save time, money and help the environment with our new mobile app

By using the Recycle guide you can discover where and when you can recycle within the UK. For more information visit

 A great initiative – and an inspiration for others to think outside the box!

 The issue of transparency and governance was quite engaging as to how this allow for better risk management and therefore will enable companies to identify their ESG risks. David Smith from RiskMetrics Group explained how adopting transparency would protect companies against “swimming naked when the tide goes out”. He also stressed the importance of this, as investors’ now wants to know the good and bad of a company’s CSR performance.

This was just a very brief summary of the summit and some of the key points which I took from it. However when I get the rest of my notes in order I will post another post with some further thoughts and ideas which was discussed.

Finally I would just like to thank CSR Asia for hosting such a inspiring and challenging summit and if anyone gets the chance to go next year when it’s held in Hong Kong – I would strongly recommend it!


Source: T-Mobile, CSR – Asia Summit 2009

A New Approach to the Issue of Living Wages

Stitching a Decent Wage Across Borders[Worker sowing at home. India, 2009. © Ankur Ahuja/ Clean Clothes Campaign.]

One of the root causes of poverty wages in the industry is the power of global buyers to constantly relocate production in search of ever lower prices and better terms of trade. This power is used to exert a downward pressure on wages and conditions – labour being one of the few ‘production costs’ or ‘inputs’ that can be squeezed. 

The solution

The basic idea of the Asia Floor Wage is to put a ‘floor’ under this, thereby preventing this competition from forcing wages below poverty levels and making sure gains are more equitably shared along the supply chain. The Asia Floor Wage alliance have formulated a unified, regional demand for a minimum living wage which is decent and fair and which can be standardised and compared between countries. This regional collective bargaining strategy will unite workers and their allies from different Asian countries behind one wage demand. 


The goal is to attain this standardised minimum living wage for workers across Asia through negotiations between garment industry employers and workers’ representative organisations, and with the mediation and support of governments, inter-governmental organisations and social movements.

The report constructed by the Asia Floor Wage organisation is available here.

Source: Asian Floor Wage

Hazardous Chemicals in Footwear

plastskor i hög

There has been a lot of attention given to the use of chemicals used in textile and apparel production in the past.  We have heard of pesticides in cotton farming, dyeing and the finishing treatment of jeans. Many retailers have responded to the pressure from NGOs as well as consumers, and the use of organic cotton has grown exponentially since 2006.

There was only a matter of time before the footwear industry would have to take responsibility for the production of shoes. There are many components in a shoe which have been an excuse many footwear retailers have used to avoid the subject. However, large brands like NIKE and Timberland have showed that it is possible to exclude and replace certain chemicals to make safer products.

On September 14th 2009 the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation published the report ” Chemicals Up Close –  plastic shoes from all over the world” where 27 plastic shoes purchased in 7 different countries were tested for hazardous chemicals such as phthalates, heavy metals and tin organic compounds. There was found traces of all in most of the tested shoes.

The damaging implications of these chemicals are large, both for people and the environment. Cancer, liver failure, skin allergies and burns have been identified among workers who are exposed to large amounts over time.

“The environmental toxins in the shoes can spread to people and to the environment as the shoes become worn. There is also a considerable risk of them affecting the people involved in the manufacture of the shoes, says Mikael Karlsson, President of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation.”

For those that work in the footwear industry it is becoming increasingly important to identify these risks and take action in order to achieve a safer supply chain as well as a eco – safe product. If designers and buyers gain more knowledge about the properties of hazarouds chemicals, they can work together with the supplier to develop a eco -safe product.

You can find the report here.

The report refers to the new EU legislation on chemicals, REACH, where some of the tested chemicals are subject to be banned or restricted.

ILO launches book on “Forced labor: Coercion and exploitation in the private economy”

Forced LabourThe International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition was August 23rd. To mark the occasion, the ILO (International Labour Organization) has launched a new book on forced labour, titled “Forced labor: Coercion and exploitation in the private economy.”

You can download the book’s Executive Summary in English, Spanish or French, here.  

More than 200 years after a slave rebellion in the Caribbean sparked a movement that eventually led to the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, an estimated 12 million people around the world still work under coercion in forced labour, slavery and slavery-like practices. The ILO Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour is marking the annual International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition on August 23 with the release of a new, comprehensive series of case studies and policy recommendations on forced labour and modern slavery in the world today.

The book titled Forced labour: Coercion and exploitation in the private economy1 is based on more than six years of research and features case studies from Latin America, South Asia, Africa and Europe. It expands on the conclusions of the ILO Global Report on forced labour, entitled “The Cost of Coercion” published in May 2009, offering in-depth knowledge about deceptive recruitment systems, debt bondage and other forms of coercion, as well as fresh perspectives on law, policy and statistics.

 1 ISBN 978-92-2-122681-9, a co-publication by the ILO and Lynne Rienner.

Source: ILO