How textile companies can embrace Fairtrade practices in their warehouse management

26 May 2022

Sustainability is a key selling point for the fashion industry right now. For those textile companies that serve the fashion industry, it’s important to take note of the increased consumer demand for sustainable products. 

One way to help improve sustainability is by embracing Fairtrade practices.

What are Fairtrade practices, and why embrace them as a textile company?

Fairtrade practices look to reduce the burden on those working in textiles manufacturing. There are 40 million textile workers, with the majority of those living in Asian countries. Asia offers businesses the ability to mass-produce their products with minimal costs because workers are paid considerably less than workers in Western countries. 

The Fairtrade Textile Standard requires that workers are paid a living wage within six years of certification. This enables textile workers to earn a salary to cover their everyday costs, such as housing and food. It also permits workers to organise as a union, informing them of their rights, democratic representation within the company and internal communication and complaints management. 

Workers protected by the Fairtrade Textile Standard are also protected by increased safety measures, such as personal protective equipment and regulated working hours that reduce accidents caused by fatigue.

Fast fashion has placed an enormous strain on the textile manufacturing industry and led to shocking worker mistreatment stories. Using Fairtrade certified suppliers and adhering to Fairtrade practices ensure that your workers are respected and consumers feel confident in their decision to buy your products.

How to embrace Fairtrade as a textile company

Switching to Fairtrade may seem like a big shift, but it won’t be too difficult, assuming you already work ethically. A few simple tweaks here and there can help make your business even more ethical.

Work with Fairtrade suppliers

The most obvious step is to start working with Fairtrade suppliers. Thanks to the World Fair Trade Organisation’s comprehensive database, tracking down Fairtrade certified suppliers is simple.

This database lists every Fairtrade certified supply for a wide range of industries worldwide, with a helpful filter function to help you narrow down your options. The WFTO has verified each supplier listed in the database to ensure that you won’t inadvertently support poor ethical workplace practices like forced overtime, child labour, poor working conditions, or underpaid workers. 

Opt for a smart inventory management system

Tracking your supply chain is crucial when adopting Fairtrade practices. Non-Fairtrade suppliers will often deflect any attempts at offering full transparency. It’s important to investigate supplier claims, so you don’t accidentally source materials from shady third parties.

Smart inventory management systems help you keep track of your supply chain with minimal effort. This is especially helpful when using multiple suppliers because you can track inventory coming and going through all points in your supply chain and ensure full transparency. 

Keeping track of your inventory can also help to reduce wastage, which is another key factor in Fairtrade practices. Fairtrade looks to protect workers, but it also looks to protect our planet by promoting sustainable practices. Using inventory management software can help you keep better track of your inventory, preventing stock loss and over-ordering, meaning you’re only buying what you’re selling.

Invest in the right training and safety practices in your warehouse for your warehouse staff

As the adage goes: change starts at home.

One of the best ways to adopt Fairtrade practices is implementing them in your warehouse. There’s little point in focusing on Fairtrade throughout your supply chain if you abandon the whole concept when it comes to your team. 

The World Fair Trade Organisation has ten principles that certified suppliers must adhere to. By following these same principles, you can ensure your workers receive the same level of care as your suppliers, making an airtight Fairtrade chain from the textile factory right up to your shipping department.

10 Principles of Fair Trade:

    1. Creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers – Organisations should strive to help impoverished producers move out of income insecurity and encourage self-sufficiency.
    2. Transparency and accountability – Every organisation should have total transparency with trading partners and ensure open and honest communication.
    3. Fair trading practices – This covers a wide area, including social, environmental, and economic factors. Companies should respect the whole supply chain, and no organisation should profit at another’s expense.
  • Fair payment – This principle looks at several aspects of fair pay, including fair prices and fair wages based on the local living wage and living expenses.
  • Commitment to non-discrimination, gender equity, and women’s economic empowerment and freedom of association – Policies should be in place to ensure no discrimination takes place within an organisation on any grounds.
  • Ensuring good working conditions – Every work environment should provide individuals with a safe and healthy workspace. Adequate health and safety procedures should be in place to protect workers.
  • Providing capacity building – This principle supports marginalised workers in improving management and production capabilities for a better and fairer future.
  • Promoting ethical trade – All organisations under the WFTO agree to support, promote, and share the message of the ethical trade community to help improve manufacturing conditions and practices around the world.
  • Respect for the environment – Alongside the improvements for communities under this movement, organisations also strive to maximise sustainable resources and reduce their carbon footprints to improve broader environmental issues.

Building your training and day-to-day people management practices around these principles will improve the lives of all your warehouse workers and make customers feel good about choosing your business. 

Ready to learn more about the benefits a great inventory management system can bring? Request a demo from our experts today!

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