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Ethical Fashion

Rapanui is an Eco-Fashion company from the Isle of Wight, that makes Organic, Ethical clothing using Renewable Energy with award-winning traceability. Rapanui is about making eco-fashion cool.

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Eco Labelling Clothing

Eco-labelling: Just as your crisps tell you they have high fat or salt content, or your light bulbs tell you if they're efficient or not, we think the high street should clearly, honestly tell you how clothing is made.

Ecolabelling clothing

Some clothes might have an organic, or eco friendly logo on them, but it’s hard to tell, when you look at all the different labels (and the fine print) what’s really going on. So at Rapanui, we’ve come up with a solution. We propose that an independent organisation to take all the complexities in the labelling, specifications and small print of clothing and rounded it all up into a simple grading that lets consumers shop quickly, with a conscience.

We call it, simply, ecolabelling. A simple A-G rating in the same style as the highly successful EU energy rating label. We developed the idea and petitioned Number 10 to enforce it in 2008. Since then we’re proud to have gained national recognition in newspapers and awards ceremonies, whilst our ecolabelling system (and variations of it) have been adopted by major high-street brands in the UK. It’s safe to say that Rapanui’s ecolabelling initiative has made a difference, but we want to see it through.

Why is Ecolabelling needed?

The rules of economics say that if a customer demands, the market supplies. Unfortunately no-one thought about the implications of competing for more effective marketing; after all, 'To illustrate a principle, you must exaggerate much and omit much'  – This has escalated to the point where nowadays, very few people understand where clothing comes from, and how it is made – not just customers, but fashion companies too. Each Briton spends on average £624 on clothes each year whilst the population of the UK purchases approximately three billion garments per year; this is equivalent to approximately 50 items per person. None of these items are purchased with consideration of their source.

Without a clear, independent and regulated system to quickly and simply classify sustainability (or otherwise) of clothing, choosing sustainably is impossible. Our ecolabelling system makes the consumer-powered transformation of the clothing industry possible. Furthermore, the easy visual identification is compatible with the market now – it’s fast, it’s easy and it’s free.

How does it work?

The same system of ecolabelling on energy efficient light bulbs was applied, and then taken one step further by the EU. By enforcing the regulation of switching to energy saving bulbs, EU citizens will save close to 40 TWh (roughly the electricity consumption of Romania, or of 11 million European households) and will lead to a reduction of about 15 million tons of CO2 emission per year. Fashion is a bigger industry, with more lobbying power and will complain more that the light bulb manufacturers, but this system works – and it’s worth it.

By simply by placing an A-G rated label on the normal swing tag, it is possible to turn a whole industry around.

Sounds good. But how are the ratings defined?

It would be too easy for other companies to just slap an A on everything: We believe that clothing Ecolabelling should be an independently verified process. Our aim is to continue to lead the development and promotion of the scheme until this stage.

Broadly, this is how the labels should be viewed.

•    A – organic ethical sustainable
•    B – ethical with some work to sustainable
•    C – ethical
•    D – not bad, not good either
•    E – needs improving
•    F – some organic, ethical or sustainable
•    G – not organic, ethical or sustainable

Our complete ecolabelling ratings calculation is being prepared for presentation at a parliamentary committee, with a view to creating a proposal to be considered in Brussels.

Our Question & EU response

In September 2011 we sent off a question to Brussels via UK MEP Catherine Bearder to find out what the EU is doing about clothing eco labelling. In Janurary of 2012 we received the following response:

EN
E-010750/2011
Answer given by Mr Potočnik
on behalf of the Commission
(11.1.2012)

The Commission is already running the EU Ecolabel, a voluntary scheme to encourage businesses to market products and services that are kinder to the environment. Products and services awarded the Ecolabel carry the flower logo, helping manufacturers, retailers and service providers gain recognition for good environmental standards, while helping purchasers to make reliable choices.

Ecolabel criteria are based on studies which analyse the impact of the product or service on the environment throughout its life-cycle, starting from raw material extraction in the pre-production stage, through to production, distribution and disposal.

Today EU Ecolabel criteria exist for 26 product groups, including textiles. The producers of textile products can apply for the EU Ecolabel if these products meet the environmental criteria set for them.

More information on the EU Ecolabel and the criteria for textiles is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/ecolabel - The current criteria for textiles will be revised in 2012.

The Commission is aware of the confusion caused by the multiplicity of voluntary labels and increasing consumer perceptions of "greenwashing". It therefore announced  that it will look into the feasibility of an initiative on the Ecological Footprint of Products to establish a common European methodology to assess the environmental impact of products and label such products.

      1."Towards a Single Market Act", COM(2010) 608 final/2 of 11.11.2010 and "Single Market Act Twelve levers to boost growth and strengthen confidence" COM(2011) 206 of 13.04.2011

ENDS.

Although an EU eco rating stamp exists, it is only a stamp of approval, not a scaled rating; it doesn't allow consumer to value the eco friendliness of the product in an eco rating - just a black and white - this is eco, this is not eco. As we know from looking at the appliance and light bulb industry - things are never that simple - we need to adopt a simple rating system from A-G - to make it easier for clothing consumers to shop quickly with a conscience.


*Important Disclaimer - Rapanui is proposing and is currently field-trialling an eco-label scheme modelled on the EU energy-rating label, following discussions with representatives for the European parliament.

This development work is being carried out by Rapanui with a view to handing over the draft framework fully to a parliamentary commission over the winter of 2011/12. However, it should be noted that Rapanui's A-G clothing ecolabel proposal is not currently a scheme, policy, service or certification currently provided by an independent organisation, nor is it not recognised by government or any governmental organisation, or affiliated in any official way with current EU legislation. Instead it is intended to be a real-life demonstration by Rapanui to show and document the viability of a scheme, with the purpose to raise awareness of it's potential to improve the clothing industry.

As such until further notice, the ecolabel ratings shown here should be treated as a rough guideline rating by Rapanui to advise the consumer of overall impact of the product, in Rapanui's opinion, compared to a base-case example - and nothing more.



I like this. What can I do to help?

You’re not alone. This year a Global Consumer Wind study by Vestas found that “Consumers want more information about the renewable energy used in the production of brands, for instance through labeling.”

If you believe that this would make it easier for you to know what’s going on with the clothes you’re wearing, put your voice forward and join our petition. If you have a facebook, posting up a link to this page or emailing it to friends would help too:

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