ethics: other peoples' ethics - human rights - democracy - CO2

ETHISCORE from a checklist of ethical "areas of concern" applied to companies, and this page tries to apply it to in case anyone ever asks about this stuff, or wants to see an "environmental policy", and maybe just see the gaps; the low scores. For a couple of hundred pounds, Ethical Consumer will repeat this work and publish.

✔ - probably score well
✘ - probably score badly
☐ - probably not applicable

bonobo ape pondering ethical instinctsEthicsore uses a nobbly set of concerns that no one person is going to agree with. It doesn't mention social security. It's based on opposition campaigns: there is a boycott call on China which looses "a whole point", but not Vietnam There's one against just about every way of generating electricity. simply lists scores for each country where our shoes are made for human rights, democracy, health and education spending, and a link to the social security system in each country.

At the other extreme are lists from Ethical Trading Initiative set-up by large importers and civil servants, which are more dull. All such scores tend to ignore the firms making things in Europe under EU law that are way-ahead of anything a well-scored multinational can achieve.  

Animals sells only vegan products, which saves checking fifty-plus sub-bullet-points. The strictest vegans or the most emotive ones wouldn't enjoy going round leather shoe factories, but we can tick the box.

Chimp eating from polystyreneEnvironment

  •  Environmental Reporting 

    We have a page copying the "Livestock's Long Shadow" environmental report's introduction and a general statement about leather.

    The current supplier of microfibre for vegan boot and shoe uppers is certified:

    ✔ Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 class I.

    ✔ REACH Regulation 1907:2006 (Concerning the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals).

    WE are working on a cheaper method for replacing Tredair soles and can refer customers to a cobbler to replace them.

    We are a home-based business, in a building that meets all recent environmental recommendations except adding extra insulation to non-cavity walls, which is expensive. Otherwise, the system saves commuting costs and energy use. 

    We use recycled layers of packing to protect shoe boxes when we post, in case they are returned and we can re-use them. The paper is usually Amazon packing paper from nearby bins, and the address is usually in a recycled window envelope. Our suppliers use cardboard boxes cut to standard shapes and designs for efficient use of corrugated cardboard, which is made from recycled pulp.

    We use one of the cheapest web hosts available, which happens to make environmental reports.
    ✔  Energy use "less than 27% of the most common servers"; air conditioning "approved by the energy star board", and an un-quantified offset via International Tree Foundation. The firm is good at running near full capacity and rationing server use, as you'll notice about once in six months when the screen goes white and a message says "too many requests". Cloudflare, which provides our free secure server certificate, boasts carbon offset certificates to match server and office energy use worldwide since 2019.

  •  Climate Change

    ✔ Our country pages report CO2 emissions per unit of electricity in each country, and each product is linked to a country page. CO2 per country is compared to electricity use for each country, to make a number that's easy to look-up and check. There are more subtle figures for CO2 per KWh used in the grid in each country which we may report if easy and clear.

    ✔ Shoes made closer to us have less far to travel, using less fuel and CO2; we don't put a number on it.

  •  Pollution & Toxics 

    22 suspect AZO dyes were banned in the EU at the last look.

    Volatile Organic Compounds evaporate from glue at home or in repair shops when it dries. There are EU rules on larger scale use of volatile organic compounds in glues.

    Leather pollutes All our nonleather footwear is covered by The Footwear (Indication of Composition) Labelling Regulations 1995 as well as our own stricter standards. We don't stick a label on, as the word "vegan" covers it, but anything like slippers or wellies that comes to us from the mainstream has a composition label on it when it arrives here.

    Plastic in our soles and wellies is an issue.
    These are all durable objects that last for years, and the Tredair range is repairable to last even more years, so the volume is next to nothing compared to any household's plastic rubbish in a week.

    Plastics are the ones chosen by UK industry before a massive contraction under 1980s - 2000s economic policies so there isn't much choice of supplier or tooling; we have to use 1980s technology if we want to keep UK manufacturing in business, which is a higher priority for us. 

    Ethiscore refers us to campaigns by World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace, which are mainly about disposable plastic and fishing nets ending-up in the sea. Most shoes end-up in landfill, and if they're dropped in the sea it's hard for a fish to get stuck in them or swallow them

    Ethical Consumer write: "all clothing and footwear companies lost a whole mark under pollution and toxics unless: they used
    100% sustainably sourced materials (i.e. organic, recycled, cotton sourced under the Better Cotton Initiative, or chromium-free leather); or were
    listed as a leader in the Greenpeace Detox campaign; or had a
    ✔ turnover of less than £10.2 million and were providing an environmental alternative.
    Some companies partially met these criteria, or were signatories to ZDHC (Zero Discharge Hazardous Chemicals), and lost only half a mark."
    So loses a mark but might get it back again for having a low turnover, if microfibre counts as a sustainably sourced materal - see below.

  • ☐ Habitats & Resources

    About wild animals, green belt, and the equivalent in countries that were once jungles. Likewise...
  • ☐ Palm Oil

Video of Bonobo ape firing an AK47 gunPeople

  •  Human Rights

    ✔ A new Human Rghts Index rates each country with a score. We've written it on a country page and linked each product made in that country to that page. A simple idea that other shops ought to try.

    Ethicscore now deducts points for "Non-disclosure of country of origin in sector where sourcing from oppressive regimes is common"; a nifty idea. Talking of which, our flipflops are probably made in China, the butterfly-shaped pads we can send with mens' shoes to make them fit women are made in China, but those are exceptions and anyway you've got the score page to check.

    Publishers and distributors of pornography lose a point on their score, and Veganline's boots were used in a short film called Prison Break by UK Naked Men. No known human rights were breached and, anyway, we are not the publishers or distributors.

    ✔ Social security systems like health insurance, unemployment pay and basic pensions are sometimes provided by employers in sweatshop countries and would earn extra points under "workers rights" and maybe a label like Fairtrade. Veganline's shoes are made in countries with social security systems for everyone, including those who aren't working or those who work for the worst employer. It's easier to walk-out of a bad job if there's social security. The paragraph is under "human rights" because social security systems were declared a human right in the 1940s, but the rich people who control poor countries didn't agree, unfortunately.

  •  Workers' Rights

    ✔ Social security systems reduce the birth rate and the number of people in desperate poverty. This in turn reduces the number of people willing to work for the worst employers, so social security systems belong under "human" and "workers" headings.

    ✔ Goods made on slow cycles of design put less stress on the staff. Anyone supplying a sudden rushed order will be forced to get maximum overtime from factory staff or to use extra subcontractors or both. Bad working conditions follow, just as CO2 emissions from airfreight follow when the rushed order is sent.

    ✔ Shoes are made under EU compatible law for employment and discrimination except in Albania where the factory management is based in Italy but the factory is not. The Albania country pages list some detail. Discrimination against gay people is a problem at the moment in Albania.

    Products are made in countries with a social security system (except if they're not, like belt buckles and flip flops but the rest are). Countries with social security systems are less likely to have a large growing population, so there's less pressure to work at any cost.

  •  Supply Chain Management

    The only way to do this for free is to buy from countries where the government does it, at least to the low standards listed like "freedom of association". does this. The section reads as though it's designed for someone importing from Asia or Africa, and the introduction says that it's for importers.

  • ☐ Irresponsible Marketing

    About food, drink, tobacco, and fashion advertising on models. Not applicable to - nor the point below because we haven't had a military order yet. We do have some tools for making boots as worn by fighter plane pilots, but we don't have space for a lasting machine and cutting presses to make the boots.

  • ✘ Arms & Military Supply

    Orders welcome

People - social security - health services - education services

If you look out of your window in the UK in late 2020 you might see a sign in support of the NHS, but economists are silent about this, and about dole and other benefits or even free education. That's because - well - some reason or other. Ethiscore has nothing to say either. 

The point of difference between posts in the internet is whether social security comes before prosperity in a country, or whether it comes after as a kind of prize for being prosperous, which has to be given-up again if a country is un-competitive. Someone who thinks that social security, health, and education always come after prosperity would want to buy goods from "developing countries" which have not yet got the turnover of T-shirt manufacturing to pay for an NHS or old-age pensions. Someone who thinks that these things usually have to come before prosperity in a country will want to reduce purchases from badly-run countries and maybe even have a tariff until they get better.

Bangladesh has a very low proportion of government spending on social security of health. The government there prefers to spend it on export subsidies, to raise factory turnover. At the same time, factory wages have fallen as population of poor Bangladeshis has risen. This is likely to happen in a country where girls leave school very young and families benefit from having a lot of children to support them in old age. This is what happened in the UK among the poor, even at the same time that industry built-up and huge numbers of people found new prosperity. So, if other countries are like Victorian Britain, a lot of them will have trouble raising factory wages and introducing things like healthcare, until it becomes compulsory and other countries reward that with a tariff or by the choices that consumers make.

Water for the Elephants by Sara Grueen - her previous book before one about Bonobo apes, for which this publicity picture was taken and got onto the internet from where pinchedPolitics

  • ☐ Controversial Technologies

    • genetic engineering
    • nuclear power
    • Nanotechnology

      This last one includes microfibre - the wonderful material for mopping-up spills or making into thick tough material that lasts for years. The main criticism, I think, is that quickly-made fluffy microfibres can moult fibre that ends up in the sea. These are very different to the thick closely-packed microfibre on shoes. So, technically, might not lose a point on ethiscore.

      An advantage of microfibre is that it's a good substitute for leather, cutting-out the animal industry with its cruelty, land waste, and emissions.
  • ✔ Anti-Social Finance - eg

    • Company criticised for enforcing poor terms on small suppliers
    • Mis-selling of products
    • Payment of bribes etc etc
  • ✔ Boycott Calls - (we might sell on Amazon some time but not yet)

    • Made in China, Amazon, Crufts and others - listed here
    • Russia, Syria and others - listed here Cloudflare, the service we use to make the web site a bit more stable and provide a secure server, does the same for parts of the Burmese military that do ethnic cleansing and genocide.
  •  Political Activity - donors who fund lobby groups who pretend to be impartial etc etc

    This is a list of pet hates - the party donors who may also hire lobbyists and may be members of a supposedly expert trade association. has a page or two about a pet hate like that, which is now dormant but might re-emerge. It used to be called Ethical Fashion Forum, or Ethical Fashion Forum: Goods from Badly-Run Countries on our page about it, next to our one about their Made in Britain page.

    Involvement with London Fashion Week from British Fashion Council isn't mentioned. They are an off-shoot of the Greater London Authority with a little funding from the Department for Business, so we pay taxes towards them. They promote throw-away, fast-changing fashion from un-named factories. competing with factories that pay taxes and employ people in the UK.
  • ☐ Tax - we do OK

    Veganline pays taxes towards a welfare state so it is way-ahead of some rivals, but we benefit from tax breaks.
    VAT exemption on small firms allows us not to charge another 20% on our mark-up for UK sales and save a lot of book-keeping. Our larger rivals also pay rent and insurance and employment costs, so the system is unfair on larger firms. Most make-up by buying cheaply in the far east, but not all.
    Our server company bills from Luxemburg, but that's a small proportion of turnover.

Sustainability "those brands making a positive impact"

  •  Company Ethos - we do well on this. The headings are

    • All ... fair trade ... not tested on animals criteria... innovative environmental alternatives
    • ... a mutual organisation
    • All ...e organic
    • ... vegetarian in a sector where this is not the norm
    • All products are vegan
    • Not-for-profit trading structure
    • Company is a B corp
  •  Product Sustainability (organic, fairtrade, energy-efficient, vegan & vegetarian products) - we do well on this of course