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How do you know if a cloth nappy has been ethically manufactured?

Added on 18 January 2014 in Ethical manufacture

For many of us, how a nappy has been manufactured is an important consideration. It certainly is for us here at Darlings Downunder.

Some nappies are manufactured in the UK or North America, or Australia where they have to abide by certain standards of working conditions and wages etc for their employees (no brands we stock use illegal sweat shops!).

Some manufacturers contract WAHMs (work at home mums/parents) to sew nappies in their own homes. Thirsties do this, as do SoftBums, and are committed to fair and sustainable labour practices, providing people in their own communities with jobs, and helping local economies.

For the ones that manufacture in countries like China that don't have acceptable standards in place, there are several ways a brand can ensure manufacture is ethical.

  • Some own their own factories overseas where they set the wages and conditions,
  • Others will contract small family owned factories where they can have more say in how things are run,
  • Others choose factories that are accredited under internationally recognised standards of ethical trade. The use of accredited third party auditors who assess factories is fairly standard, too.

There are international standards and certifications that can apply for the environmental aspects as well as the human rights/fair trade side of things - either to the factory or to the manufacturer, like Quality Management System ISO 9001 & Environmental Management System ISO 14001 as well as SA8000 certification (Social Accountability standard - auditable certification for protection of the human rights of workers) and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 (this certifies products are safe from harmful chemicals/substances & covers every stage of production). Those who use organic cotton in production source it from Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) accredited suppliers (this standard includes both ecological and social criteria) that is independently tested.

  

 

An ethical manufacturer should be able to tell you where their nappies are made, whether their factory is accredited under any certification, whether regular inspections/audits take place, the standard working conditions there, where their fabrics are sourced from and their quality control procedures. They will probably have visited the factory personally, or employed a manager to do so.


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