Fair Trade Certified Apparel Now Available

Flickr / Shared Interest

In early-May Reeve Consulting reported that Fair Trade Certified jeans and t-shirts would be available in the United States this fall. After more than 3-years in the works, Trans Fair USA’s apparel pilot program has certified it’s first cotton garments.

Previously only the agricultural inputs of products, such as cotton, could be Fair Trade Certified in the United States. This new certification for Apparel and Linens is the first social, economic and environmental standard that directly benefits workers at both ends of the supply chain – the farmers who grow the cotton and the workers who sew the garments.

The new standard has two parts:

Obligations of Factories, which includes Fair Trade management systems, core labor standards from ILO Conventions and multi-stakeholder initiatives; and,

Obligations of Buyers, which explains the requirements for US companies interested in using the Fair Trade Certified label on cotton products.

Fair Trade garments for uniforms & corporate team apparel

Flickr / Wonder Mike

While there are many companies still undergoing the certification process, a number of early adopters, Maggie’s Organics, Hae Now and Tompkins Point Apparel, are currently selling Fair Trade Certified apparel (mainly shirts) through their online stores. All companies offer styles that would be suitable additions to uniforms and corporate team apparel, ship to Canada, and offer wholesale discounts for larger orders. We at Reeve Consulting look forward to seeing a broader style selection of Fair Trade apparel emerging over the coming months.

Tim Reeve reports from Moscow: Environmental and Sustainable Purchasing for Sochi 2014

This week Tim Reeve has been in Moscow meeting with key members of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee regarding environmental and sustainable purchasing for the upcoming Winter Olympic Games.

Starting with two-days of intense fact finding meetings with functional areas of the Organizing Committee, Tim has spent the week learning about the scope of purchasing within key functions and the link between the Sustainable Management System and sourcing.

Tim reports that throughout his meetings there has been a high level of interest in environmental and sustainable purchasing from senior management, executives and staff. There has also been discussion of ambitious overall programs that would set new standards and benchmarks for sustainability within the Russian Federation. Key areas of opportunity include cleaning and waste, ceremonies, food and beverage, construction and overlay.

Head office of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, located in central Moscow near the Kremlin

Perhaps the most exciting news of the week is that the final Sustainable Management System has been approved by the Organizing Committee Executive.

Building on lessons learned from the successful Buy Smart Program for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, Reeve Consulting will spend the next several weeks designing policies and procedures to move the Organizing Committee forward on their journey towards a green and sustainable games.

Follow Tim on Twitter @ReeveConsulting for updates on his time with the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee.

Reeve Consulting Invited to Work with Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee

On the heels of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic’s BuySmart Program’s success, Reeve Consulting has been approached by the Organizing Committee for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi to help design and build an environmental procurement and sustainable sourcing program.

Flickr / roland

A sustainable purchasing program will enable organizers of the 2014 Winter Games to leverage procurement to meet sustainability objectives including zero waste, carbon neutrality and sustainable economic development of the surrounding Krasnodar district. These targets have been outlined in both an environmental strategy adopted by the advisory committee in 2009 and subsequent environmental procurement policy drafted by Reeve Consulting and adopted by the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee in June of 2010.

Flickr / maiak.info

Reeve Consulting will be working with executives and senior managers from the Environmental Support and Sustainability departments of the Organizing Committee to build tools, develop procedures and identify high profile purchasing opportunities to support implementation of their sourcing policies.

Tim Reeve will be traveling to Moscow to meet with members of the Organizing Committee in late-November and again in February of 2011. Check back for updates from the field! You can also follow Tim’s trip on Twitter @ReeveConsulting.

Reeve Consulting on Twitter

Reeve Consulting is now on Twitter at @ReeveConsulting.

Our tweets focus on sustainable supply chains, ethical sourcing, product certification programs, greenwashing, corporate social responsibility, Reeve Consulting projects and more.

We’re having a great time in the ‘Twitterverse’ connecting with our clients and colleagues and learning a lot from advocacy and news groups in our sector. We hope you’ll join the conversation and connect with us on Twitter. We’re sharing interesting news and helpful resources for improving your sustainable sourcing efforts.

Reeve Consulting and the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing

Reeve Consulting recently initiated the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing (MCSP). The aim of this project is to leverage the collective experience of municipalities to advance their sustainable purchasing initiatives by sharing ethical and sustainable purchasing (ESP) resources and lessons learned.

The value of ethical and sustainable purchasing for municipalities

Ethical and sustainable purchasing (ESP) is becoming an increasingly important element in the sustainability sections of municipal strategic plans. Few other programs can directly contribute to multiple civic agendas around zero waste, climate leadership, local economic development, strategic sourcing and staff engagement. Among the advantages of an effective ESP program are mitigating legal and brand risks, enhancing the municipal brand as a sustainability leader, reducing costs by selecting products with less waste, energy consumption and product related health risks and building staff engagement around sustainability.

Facilitating ESP with the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing

Recognizing that ESP is a new and evolving field, Reeve Consulting understands that municipalities need access to tools and information to help them make the right decisions. Through regular conference calls, webinars, expert consultations and sharing of electronic tools, we’re facilitating the development of results-oriented ESP programs that make the best use of limited resources.

Specific initiatives undertaken by participating municipalities include reducing municipal waste by demanding products with minimal packaging, reducing carbon emissions by selecting energy efficient certified electronics, and limiting toxins by sourcing green cleaning supplies. At the same time, participating municipalities are considering the social impacts of their procurement by demanding products that meet international labour standards for fair and safe working conditions.

According to Jeff Byrne, Chief Procurement Officer, City of Ottawa, there are many benefits to participating in the MCSP program including increased access to information and lessons learned, developing civic partnership and leadership, and advancing sustainability performance in the public sector. Another active participant in the group, Shannon Clohosey, Sustainability Projects Manager, City of Whitehorse, has said she’s very optimistic about where the MCSP project is going and wants to remain active in 2011.

To date nine Canadian municipalities have joined the MCSP project, which would not be possible without the lead sponsorship support of the City of Saskatoon, City of Edmonton and City of Ottawa. We are also pleased to have additional support from the following participating members: Halifax Regional Municipality, City of London, City of Guelph, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Town of Olds and City of Whitehorse.

If you’re interested in joining the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Purchasing, please contact Tim Reeve, President of Reeve Consulting at 604-763-6829 or tim@reeveconsulting.com.

Cadbury Dairy Milk Goes Fair Trade in Canada

Flickr /xelcise

If you pick-up a Cadbury Dairy Milk bar in Canada these days you may notice some changes to the packaging. Since this summer, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk line has been fair trade certified. The wrappers now include an internationally recognized symbol that assures the sugar and cocoa have been purchased from producers paid a fair wage for their crop. Cadbury’s first fair trade bars were released in the UK and Ireland in 2009 and more recently in Canada, Australia and New Zealand in 2010. According to the Cadbury website, going fair trade will quadruple the sales of fair trade cocoa from Ghana and affect over 40,000 cocoa farmers.

The fair trade marketing campaign:

To accompany the release of its fair trade line, Cadbury has unveiled a marketing campaign that invites people to “see the big fair trade picture”. The campaign features print, billboard and online advertising as well as a redesigned website dedicated to the brand (dairymilk.ca). At the centre of the campaign is a series of murals in Toronto and Montreal designed by a Ghanian artist, each of which focuses on a particular benefit of fair trade. The murals fit together like puzzle pieces to present the “big picture”.  Themes of the murals include “Improving Local Infrastructure”, “Providing Access to Clean Water”, “Improving Local Health Care” and more. Out-of-home advertising also featured a summer street campaign that invited passersby to sign a petition supporting fair trade in Canada.

Is big business good for fair trade?

This move has brought plenty of attention to Cadbury and has some questioning if big business’ increasing interest in fair trade is good for the sector. On the one hand, more corporations moving some of their buying to fair trade could have a large positive impact worldwide. Further, the greater availability of fair trade certified products could raise awareness among consumers. There’s also the hope that other corporations will note their competitors shift and joins suit, for example Hershey’s or Nestle.

But is it enough for Cadbury to convert one of its lines to fair trade designation? If they’re committed to the tenets of the movement, shouldn’t they be buying fair trade inputs for all their products? It’s a good question. A skeptical view of Cadbury’s fair trade Dairy Milk may lead one to conclude its primarily a marketing stunt; an attempt to improve Cadbury’s public image without a full commitment to sustainability.

It’s a start:

At Reeve Consulting we’re not quick to jump to this conclusion. We support incremental change and from experience realize that broader change takes time.  Companies face many challenges in converting their supply chains and in most cases need to start small. An important element for us is that companies acknowledge there are problems beyond those they’re starting with, and that moving forward there’s a plan for these issues to be addressed.

We’re hoping to discuss this further with Cadbury’s Ethical Sourcing Manager this week when we attend the Sustainable Supply Chain Solutions conference in San Francisco. Watch this space for a follow-up post on what we find out. We’ll also be tweeting from the conference at @ReeveConsulting.

Are there too many eco-labels and green ratings?

Flickr / Jeff Keen

This is a good question and one we hear often at Reeve Consulting. In a recent article on GreenBiz.com, Joshua Saunders of GoodGuide tackles this issue and presents some valuable insights.

With over 300 eco-labels in the global marketplace, and more being added each year, manufacturers, businesses and consumers are faced with increasingly complex decisions when it comes to green ratings.

To simplify ecolabel decisions, Saunders suggests an oligopoly of labeling organizations with larger barriers to entry is needed. Essentially a handful of credible certification programs, labels and rating systems to dominate the market. A distinction is made between this and a “one choice” market, with Saunders stressing the importance of competition between ecolabels to fuel transparency, rigor, credibility, service and price.

Greenbiz.com

In fact it seems we’re not far from an ecolabel market dominated by a few suppliers. As Saunders rightly describes, ecolabels are segmented by product category, industry and geography. When purchasing a product, one doesn’t actually choose from 300 ecolabels, but a smaller subset that applies to the product in question.

Saunders also explains that, while more ecolabels are being introduced each year, more consolidation is taking place among the labeling organizations.  An example of this is the recent acquisition of the Canadian certification program TerraChoice by UL. This is exciting news, and we’re interested to learn about the next steps for Terra Choice when we connect with our colleagues Scott McDougall and Angela Griffiths.

Saunders article ends by stating there’s little doubt that the sustainable labeling field is moving towards greater collaboration and consolidation.  That’s good news because ecolabels are becoming an increasingly important tool for corporate and consumer purchasing. Everyone will benefit from more credible labeling and rating systems.

Read Joshua Saunders full article HERE.

Can sweatshops improve lives and economic growth?

Flickr / lovstromp

Benjamin Powell, a Stafford University professor of economics, thinks so!

In his book No Sweat: How Sweatshops Improve Lives and Economic Growth he argues that we should rejoice when we buy apparel made in sweatshops because it creates jobs and provides a living for people in poorer countries. He states that sweatshop workers usually earn at least the national average and therefore make a good living that should be supported by our consumption.

But Powell is “arguing in support of the lesser evil.” The other piece of the puzzle that Powell seems to ignore is that the same companies that are using sweatshops could continue to invest in developing economies, bring jobs to the same nations, and improve economic welfare, while at the same time refusing to support sweatshops conditions.

The fact is, whether or not workers earn a decent wage, the human rights of sweatshop workers are consistently violated, making Powell’s argument hard to swallow. Many factories workers suffer forced overtime, terrible factory conditions and often receive less than they were promised, in salary or food. In some case children are exploited and are not able to receive an education as a result.

At Reeve Consulting, we believe lives can be improved and economies can grow by engaging with suppliers and manufacturers to improve labour conditions in production facilities. Addressing ethics in supply chains does not mean closing down factories and laying off staff; it means working to improve the lives of factory workers, increasing profits for factory owners, and stimulating economic growth.

Whatever the potential economic arguments for sweatshops may be, one should not forget that “an economy” is a human construct and is therefore interconnected to human wellbeing. Some sweatshops may pay decent wages (relatively speaking) in some or even many cases, but a factory where staff are sick and tired is not a place where lives can be improved and profits can be maximized.

Sustainability Reaches the Walmart World

Flickr / mjb84

Traditionally associated with a ‘super-size-me’ kind of lifestyle, Walmart seems to be making changes to fit in with the green movement – possibly in a big way.

This past February, Walmart Canada hosted a Green Business Summit that resulted in 24 of Canada’s largest corporations accepting Walmart’s challenge to commit to the following: “My organization will launch a major sustainability project over the next year in Canada focused on waste, energy, water or sustainable products or services.” It’s not clear that every corporation that accepted the challenge has delivered, but this week 8 of the companies have posted “Sustainability Commitment Updates” on www.sharegreen.ca.

Walmart’s own commitment was to make the switch to sustainable seafood, a hot topic these days, with Greenpeace putting pressure on large companies like Costco for selling species of fish, scallops and prawns that the group deems to be unsustainable, while sustainable seafood certification programs, such as SeaChoice and OceanWise, are being adopted by more and more firms. Walmart Canada has pledged to carry only fish that meets at least minimum standards for sustainability, by 2013.

Seven other companies have posted their own updates: Frito-Lay Canada and Kraft Canada are working towards more sustainable packaging for their products (for example, Frito-Lay’s 100% compostable chip bags); Hallmark Canada and Nature’s Grilling Products have targets to reduce energy use in their plants and offices, and Nature’s Grilling has committed to using sustainably sourced charcoal; The Home Depot Canada and Kruger Products both have energy and GHG emissions reduction targets that they’re already working to meet, and Heinz Canada has also already begun reducing its GHG emissions.

It’s nice to see some of the giants making moves, but we’re cautious to become too excited: “sustainability” can be a loosely applied term, and the phenomenon of “greenwashing” can make it hard to tell how environmentally responsible firms’ choices actually are. Additionally, ethical considerations can often lose out when “green” targets are easier to achieve. Regardless, going green has clearly gone mainstream, and that’s probably for the better. As with any movement, we’d prefer large-scale shifts in the way things are done, however, small steps are encouraging, as long as they only mark the beginning.

City of Vancouver Commits to Fair Trade Java; the Greenest City just got a little bit Greener

Flickr / 96dpi

The City of Vancouver is keeping pace with several other Canadian municipalities by applying to become a “Fair Trade Town.” This commits the City to purchasing Fair Trade coffee, tea and sugar, as well as other Fair Trade products for meetings, offices and cafeterias. Eight Canadian towns have already received certification and at least eleven other Canadian municipalities are working towards becoming “Fair Trade Towns,” including Montreal, St. John’s, and Quebec City.

Transfair Canada – Canada’s third-party certifier of Fair Trade products – provides the official “Fair Trade Town” status, which is slated to happen for Vancouver this week, just in time for World Fair Trade Day (Saturday, May 8th). Vancouver will be Canada’s largest municipality to have achieved this designation.

Fair Trade guarantees that business supply chains function according to standards of fairness, transparency and accountability – setting the proverbial ‘level playing field’ – especially for those at the producing end of the supply chain. Vancouver’s commitment to Fair Trade means the City will use its spending power to advance several social and environmental objectives, such as the ‘green economy’, ‘fair labour practices’ and ‘toxic free’ food production.

In a report presented to Vancouver City Council, ethical and sustainable purchasing has been identified as a key priority by Mayor Robertson’s Greenest City Action Team, and is seen as a strategic and cross-cutting lever for making Vancouver a leading edge sustainability organization.

We at Reeve Consulting believe these kinds of commitments are a very important piece in creating a green and fair economy; an economy from which everyone can derive benefit. We think more municipalities should commit to these policies. We also know that public declarations are just one step in a process of positive change. They are an important declaration. But as many will attest, maximum strategic impacts come when innovative policy meets with outstanding implementation.