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 us to fill-in some kind of questionnare about this kind of stuff, or wants to see an environmental policy, and maybe you want to see the gaps: the things that we are not very good at that other people score well on. 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 a agree with absolutely and support in all their purchases and investments, but it just makes better reading. They don't mention social security much. They're based on opposition campaigns: there is a boycott call on China but not Vietnam There's one against just about every way of generating electricity. has a more even approach, simply listing 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. That doesn't make use the strictedst or most emotive vegans - who wouldn't enjoy going round leather footwear factories or buying shoes from firms that sell leather shoes as well, or even leather merchants that sell nonleather stuff alongside. Nobody like that could sell shoes for vegans.

Chimp eating from polystyreneEnvironment

  •  Environmental Reporting 

    We have a page copying the "Livestocks Long Shadow" environmental report's intruduction and a gernal 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 us usually Amazon packing paper from nearby bins put to a second use, and the address is usually in a recycled window envelope. Our suppliers use cardboard boxes to standard shapes and designs, made of recycled materials with a minimum of labelling.

  •  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 kilometres to travel; we don't put a number on it.
  •  Pollution & Toxics 

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

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

    Leather pollutes All our nonleather footwear is covered by the The Footwear (Indication of Composition) Labelling Regulations 1995 as well as our own stricter standards. Usually 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 houseold'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 looses a mark but might get it back again for having a low turnover, if microfibre counts as an sustainably sourced materal like chrome-free leather. 

  • ☐ 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 RIghts 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 have also changed their concerns lists to deduct 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 loose 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. 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. 

    ✔ 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 lists 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

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 microfibress can moult fibre that ends up in the sea. These are very different to the thick closely-packed microfibre on shoes. So, technically, Veganline,com might not loose a point on ethiscore.
  • ✔ 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, but they are funded by the Greater London Authority and the Department for Business, so we pay taxes towards them. They promote throw-away, fast-changing fashion from un-named factories that compete with factories that pay taxes in the UK.

    There is a group called "Fashion Round Table" which runs a free "secretariat" for the "All Party Group for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion" which includes a Lordy nominated by the Greater London Authority, sponsors of London Fashion Week and cheer-leaders for London College of Fashion. She has sponsored two "Westminster Hall Debates" on ethical fashion, one of which she framed on her own views and those picked up in the House of Lords Library. The second was based on the views of Nike. She didn't declare an interest to say why she changed her mind so quickly - only that she earns fees as a "consultant". It isn't clear why she set-up a new all-party group rather than using an existing one. All of this might be a perfectly OK and legitimate trade association but it shares so many habits and words with the ones on the Ethiscore pet hate list that it's worth treating with caution.
  • ☐ 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 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.

Sustainability "those brands making a postiive 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