Jewellery industry – Sting behind your bling

Whether future heirloom or fun trinket, jewellery is one of life’s luxurious pleasures. Even if you aren’t decked out in multiple carats, a bit of bling can make you feel a million dollars. But the path your jewellery takes to reach your earlobe, neck, wrist or finger can be harrowing.



Bling warfare

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but these sparklers are fuelling plenty of hate in war-torn areas of Africa, where the trade in illicit rough diamonds and gold has funded rebels in decades of devastating conflicts aimed at undermining legitimate governments in places like Sierra Leone, Liberia, Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo.


The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (download pdf here) was set up in 2003 to prevent these ‘conflict’ – or ‘blood’ – diamonds filtering through to the mainstream market. ‘Conflict-free’ diamonds are now widely available, but sadly jewellery production is still an ethical minefield. Check out for more information on avoiding conflict stones.


Clean Canadian sparklers?

To avoid the bad publicity of African diamonds, there’s been a huge rush for stones from Canada – one of the world’s biggest producers – which some companies are promoting as a ‘clean’ alternative. While these mines aren’t funding bloody conflicts, many would argue that some of them are damaging the livelihoods of the indigenous communities living in mining areas, and the fragile ecosystems they depend on.


Sweat behind the sparkle

Worldwide, the people – including about a million children – employed on minimal wages to mine and process supposedly legitimate diamonds, gemstones and precious metals often endure some of the worst working conditions imaginable. Toiling in Asian and African countries with little or no union support means health and safety precautions are slender at best. There’s a serious risk of work-related death, injury or chronic illness as workers scratch out a living in remote mines extracting precious and semi-precious stones.


Once out of the mines, jewellery is often manufactured in sweatshop conditions. Most of the world’s diamonds are cut in India, often by child labourers working 12 to 14-hour shifts to pay off family debts. And in China many migrant workers are crippled by silicosis, or ‘dust lung’, after cutting semi-precious stones.


A toxic minefield

The jewellery industry’s impact on the environment is far from sparkling. Gold-mining can leave a shocking trail of destruction, with the production of a single gold wedding band leaving behind up to 20 tonnes of mine waste. Cyanide and mercury compounds are used to separate gold from its ore. As well as harming workers, they can pollute land and water, often affecting an area long after the local mine has closed. Then there’s the ‘acid-rock drainage’ of acidic water – out of gold and silver mines and into local groundwater. One bar of gold looks much like any other, so it can be near impossible to track the green credentials of specific pieces of jewellery.


What’s the alternative?

The British Ethical Jewellery Association is being set up to help jewellers and customers navigate the ethical jewellery minefield. It will set clear and externally audited standards to help customers make ethical choices. Meanwhile, to sparkle with a clear conscience, insist on certified non-conflict diamonds, look out for recycled metals, and try out some of the alternative materials used by the new breed of ethical jewellers.


Author: Joanna Yarrow is a broadcaster, writer and consultant specialising in green living. She’s GMTV’s eco expert and presented BBC Three’s Outrageous Wasters

Organic Clothing Labels – October Textiles Ltd

Having made the commitment to use organic garments and water based inks, the next obvious question is ‘What about my labels, are they organic too?’

Well now the answer can be ‘Yes’. Obviously they have to be printed as a woven label uses man made fibres, but add an organic swing ticket, and the garment is well presented while ticking the right ecological boxes – long live the polar bears.
t shirt printing, screen printing, embroidery

A-Z of Ethical terms

With ethical issues dominating the headlines, we’re constantly being bombarded with cryptic acronyms that are difficult to decipher and words like ‘sustainable’, ‘green’ and ‘eco’ are banded around on a regular basis.

To try and diffuse this ethical minefield, Epona’s Juliet Bacon has broken down some of the more common terms into an easy to use A-Z guide and looked at why you might, or might not, choose to go for some of the eco options available


Azo free dyes. The manufacture and use of synthetic dyes are two of the world’s most polluting industries and azo dyes make up around 70% of all dyes used to colour fabric. There are serious concerns about the safety of azos. Most azos are water-soluble and there is the risk that carcinogenic chemicals from these dyes can be absorbed by the body through skin contact. Dye house workers have been know to suffer from asthma, allergies, birth defects and reproductive damage. Alongside the human cost, considerable environmental damage is caused by chemicals from these dyes. GOTS prohibits the use of all amine releasing azo dyes and many companies are choosing to ban azos themselves.


Banned substances lists cut out or cut down on harmful chemicals used to manufacture clothes. According to Greenpeace, among the most hazardous substances commonly used in the textile sector are lead, nickel, chromium IV, aryl amines, phthalates and formaldehyde. Marks & Spencer is the first major retailer to set its own standards that ban or restrict chemicals on the products it sells and has an Environmental Code of Practice for dyeing and finishing. Manufactures in the promotional industry have the opportunity to lead the way by introducing their own banned substances list.

Bamboo is an innovative ‘eco-textile’. It grows naturally and is sustainable, thriving without pesticides or fertilizers, and reproduces rapidly across large areas where it is known to improve soil quality in degraded and eroded areas of land. It is not really seen as a replacement for cotton, more as an alternative fabric that is particularly suitable for high end garments, due to its silky feel, and sportswear because it has a natural antibacterial quality which means the fabric stays around two degrees cooler in hot weather. On top of this, the garment will biodegrade, so it won’t clog up landfills once its product lifecycle is complete.

Biodegradable plastics degrade through naturally occurring micro organisms, such as bacteria, but there is no requirement for leaving “no toxic residue”. If you want a more environmentally friendly product, it is better to opt for a compostable plastic. Compostable plastics biodegrade and then disintegrate within a set period of time, without producing any toxic material and the compost left can support plant life.

Bluesign standard is a business-controlled environmental scheme to remove any substances that are potentially hazardous to human health or the environment from the entire textile supply chain. The standard takes into account chemicals from the ‘restricted substance list’, water and air emissions, resource consumption and workplace conditions.


Codes of Conduct. Most manufacturers now agree they have a responsibility to help improve the labour conditions of their suppliers. Many have developed codes of conduct or lists of labour standards they say they are meeting in their workplaces. The reality behind these codes however, is often still quite grim. Wages are too low to live on, 80-hour working weeks are common, and the health and safety of the workers, the majority of whom are women, is constantly being undermined. Workers have no security of employment, women are discriminated against and harassed, sometimes sexually. Workers are often not allowed to form trade unions. Sometimes this is because the right to organise is not recognised in the zone or country where they work. However, more often obstacles are put up specifically to prevent workers from exercising their right to collective bargaining. Some companies opt to sign up to one of the many multi-stakeholder ethical trading initiatives that oversee the implementation of specific codes of conduct based on the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) conventions. Some of the better known initiatives include:

Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)

This is the largest UK-based initiative and is partially supported by the UK government. The main idea of the ETI is for companies to work in collaboration with NGOs and trade unions to learn the best way to implement codes. The ETI has its own code which is used as the basis for pilot projects. Corporate members must participate in ETI activities and provide the ETI secretariat with annual reports on their progress with respect to the code implementation.

Fair Labour Association (FLA)

The FLA grew out of the Apparel Industry Partnership (AIP), an initiative of US President Bill Clinton, established to address labour standards of clothing sold to US-based colleges and universities. Approximately 1,100 suppliers are taking part in the FLA’s licensee program. The FLA is governed by a board of companies, universities and NGO’s, but trade union organisations pulled out after disputes over code content. The FLA accredits independent monitors that verify compliance through factory inspections and filing reports that are accessible to the public. Where non-compliance is identified, participating companies are required to implement a remediation plan.

Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) aims to promote humane labour conditions in the garment industry. It is an initiative of business associations in the garment sector, trade unions, and NGOs. FWF was founded in The Netherlands, but is currently working hard to join similar initiatives in Europe.

Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) is an independent labour rights monitoring organisation, conducting investigations of working conditions in factories around the globe to combat sweatshops and protect the rights of workers who make apparel sold to the United States.

But does this really work? While it is positive that manufacturers are starting to sign up to these initiatives, it is hard to tell the extent companies are practicing the principles they’ve signed up to behind closed doors. Primark joined the ETI in May 2006. In December that year, War on Want published a report on workers at factories in Bangladesh that supply to ETI members Primark, Tesco and ASDA/George. These workers were typically paid 5p an hour and worked 80 hours a week. Sam Maher of Labour behind the Label says: “None of the companies can guarantee that all parts of their supply chain implement the ETI Base Code. The main issue is that there is no transparency – the reviews, criteria for inclusion and exclusion in the ETI are all confidential, so as a pressure group it is hard to know what to try to hold them to. However, when there is an urgent issue involving a specific violation, it’s much easier to get the companies involved to sit around a table and discuss it.”

Multi stakeholder initiatives are clearly a good start in encouraging companies to address problems with their supply chain, but the success of these initiatives is heavily dependent upon the genuine commitment of the company to implement and uphold significant changes.

Carbon Reduction refers to finding ways to reduce the carbon footprint of your company. If your organisation spends more that £50K per year on energy, the Carbon Trust will send out agents free of charge to suggest ways of reducing the amount of carbon you produce. The aim is to become as energy efficient as possible by using renewable energy, shipping rather than flying goods and cutting down on energy intensive processes.

Carbon Neutral: Once you have done this and worked out how much carbon you are still producing, you can become carbon ‘neutral’ by offsetting this amount. One way of doing this is to work with an organisation that funds projects to prevent other companies from producing carbon. To give an example, you might help a school in Africa to put in a wind powered generator rather than a diesel one. By preventing carbon from being produced, you are balancing out the carbon your company produces.



Eco-label is a European voAndyary certification scheme, represented by a flower logo, which aims to reduce the environmental impact of products, taking a ‘from the cradle to the grave’ approach. Products and processes are independently tested according to ecological criteria that includes: reducing the amount of toxic residues found in fibres, water pollution in fibre processing and the use of heavy metals and formaldehyde.

Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) is a campaigning group that makes a direct link between the need for environmental security and the defence of basic human rights. They are responsible for the ‘Pick your cotton carefully’ campaign that encourages manufacturers to state where they buy their cotton from; White Gold, which highlights the plight of cotton farmers in Uzbekistan; and reporting on child labour throughout the world.

Environmentally Friendly? It takes around 8,000 chemicals to turn raw materials into clothing. Many of these cause irreversible damage to people and the environment. The bleaching, dyeing, sizing and finishing of textiles all result in large quantities of effluent, often containing highly toxic heavy metals that pollute the soil and water and damage aquatic life. Each year, the global textile industry discharges 40-50,000 tons of dye into rivers and streams. Add to that the carbon emissions and impact of growing non-organic cotton, which uses petrochemical fertilisers and leads to reduced soil fertility, soil erosion, water pollution and reduced biodiversity. Then there’s the high-energy manufacturing process and the clothes miles in transporting the fibre/textiles/garments around the world. Once bought, how an item is cared for and disposed of also has an impact on the environment. Manufacturers of promotional clothing have started to take these environmental factors into consideration by producing clothing that is both kind to the environment and to the garment workers.

Continues next month

For more information contact: or go to the Epona website:

Published: 01 May, 2008 Printwear and Promotion magazine
t shirt printing, screen printing, embroidery


“Do you know where your cotton comes from?” If you knew what you are wearing, you might be ashamed.

What Continental® CAN do, is to guarantee that the cotton we use does not come from Uzbekistan. (Continental® uses Turkish & Egyptian cotton.)


To substantiate this, each of the factories Continental uses, in Turkey and India, have prepared the paperwork for both the organic and non-organic cotton, to show the source of the raw cotton. It took only four days to prepare the documentation, and the documentation had to show the receipt of the cotton as it travels up the supply chain of the manufacturing processes.

With that guaranteed, you can now sleep a little better at night, however, if you wish to learn more, read on… but I warn you, it does not make happy reading if you are in any way involved in purchasing or re-selling cotton apparel…

Uzbekistan is the third largest cotton exporter in the world. About one in four of all cotton garments sold in the UK contain a percentage of Uzbek cotton fibres. The first problem is that the Uzbek regime is responsible for torture, slave labour and a continuing environmental disaster on an unimaginable scale – all in the name of cotton production. The second problem is that they don’t tell you on the clothing labels in stores where the cotton fibres came from, just where the garment was manufactured. The truth about the Uzbek cotton industry makes horrific reading, and I only reproduce here a fraction of what I have read. I do this, not to be sensationalist, but because we can actually do something about this, by raising awareness in our industry, and encouraging other manufacturers to follow suit or lose their reputation – and ultimately lose sales. In the near future, in the current climate, unethical business practises will simply not be profitable.

Don’t take my word for it. What follows is abreviated passages from the executive summary from the International Crisis Group report on Central Asian cotton of March 2005:

The Uzbek cotton industry is a disastrous aberration created by Soviet central planning. Over 80% of the loss of water from the Aral Sea is due to irrigation for the Uzbek cotton industry, so it is responsible for one of the World’s greatest environmental disasters. On most agricultural land in Uzbekistan, cotton has been grown as a monoculture for fifty years, with no rotation. This of course exhausts the soil and encourages pests. As a result the cotton industry employs massive quantities of pesticide and fertiliser. As a result it is not just that the Aral Sea is disappearing, but that and fertilisers, with no rotation.the whole area of the former sea suffers appalling pollution, reflected in appalling levels of disease. Uzbek farm workers are tied to the farm. They need a propusk (visa) to move away – which they won’t get. The state farm worker normally gets two dollars a month. Their living and nutritional standards would improve greatly if, rather than grow cotton, they had a little area to grow subsistence crops.

There are no independent research institutes allowed in Uzbekistan. In fact the proportion of the population enslaved on state cotton farms is closer to 60% than 40%.

The cotton industry in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan contributes to political repression, economic stagnation, widespread poverty and environmental degradation. The economics of Central Asian cotton are simple and exploitative. Millions of the rural poor work for little or no reward growing and harvesting the crop. The considerable profits go either to the state or small elites with powerful political ties. Forced and child labour and other abuses are common.

This system is only sustainable under conditions of political repression, which can be used to mobilise workers at less than market cost. Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are among the world’s most repressive states, with no free elections. Opposition activists and human rights defenders are subject to persecution. The lack of a free media allows many abuses to go unreported. Unelected local governments are usually complicit in abuses, since they have little or no accountability to the population. Cotton producers have an interest in continuing these corrupt and non-democratic regimes.The industry relies on cheap labour. Schoolchildren are still regularly required to spend up to two months in the cotton fields in Uzbekistan. Despite official denials, child labour is still in use in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Students in all three countries must miss their classes to pick cotton. Little attention is paid to the conditions in which children and students work. Every year some fall ill or die.

Women do much of the hard manual labour in cotton fields, and reap almost none of the benefits. Cash wages are minimal, and often paid late or not at all. In most cotton-producing areas, growers are among the poorest elements in society.

The environmental costs of the monoculture have been devastating. The depletion of the Aral Sea is the result of intensive irrigation to fuel cotton production. The region around the sea has appalling public health and ecological problems. Even further upstream, increased salinisation and desertification of land have a major impact on the environment. Disputes over water usage cause tension among Central Asian states. Reforming the cotton sector is not easy. Central Asian cotton is traded internationally by major European and U.S. corporations; its production is financed by Western banks, and the final product ends up in well-known clothes outlets in Western countries. But neither the international cotton trading companies nor the clothing manufacturers pay much attention to the conditions in which the cotton is produced. Nor have international organisations or IFIs done much to address the abuses. U.S. and EU subsidy regimes for their own farmers make long-term change more difficult by depressing world prices.

Three years ago Craig Murray, our British ambassador to Uzbekistan, had a sense-of-humour failure about Britain condoning torture there. His fate? The Foreign Office fired him. Labour or Conservative? It doesn’t really matter does it, they are all the same.

To effect immediate change, you should demand that your apparel manufacturer state on their garment labels where their cotton comes from, and that it does not come from Uzbekistan. With the vast volume of T-shirts bought and sold, the message will quickly spread, and High Street retail will follow. Why am I doing this? As a large user of cotton, and with our influential position in the T-shirt industry, Continental Clothing has an opportunity, if not even a responsibility, to raise awareness and promote consumer action on issues where we feel strongly – such as the state orchestrated child slavery in Uzbekistan. The wonderful thing is that it costs us nothing, and may switch cause consumers to question the garments they buy and so switch them on to cotton garments which guarantee that certain positive social and environmental conditions are met – such as Continental garments. This is often the way with ethical and environmental choices, initially they appear expensive and difficult, until you realise they can be sustainable choices for a longer term and more profitable future. So yes, we are doing this because we can, and also for personal gain. If you follow the same formula, you may benefit in exactly the same way.

Philip Charles – Director.
Philip can be reached at

> UK Urban fashion awards 2007

“The 2007 UUFA awards ceremony is on the 9th November. It is to recognise the achievement of urban fashion designers in the UK………..”  

Who is UUFA?UUFA aims to bring together UK urban fashion designers, recognising these designers in their own right and acknowledge that they represent an important facet of the fashion industry. 

Where is it the award show?Friday, November 9 8:30 PM (7:30 PM doors)
UK Urban Fashion Awards 2007at Porchester Hall, England – London
8 Catwalk Shows and 10 awardsInvited Guests include:
Romero Bryan, Sugababes, Reggie Yates, Jasmine Dotiwala (MTV), Boy George, Britain’s Next Top Model girls
VIP Includes preferential seating, afterparty pass and complimentary drinks at the show

General admission:£20.00-£35.00 – show.

After party tickets
Friday, November 9 at 11:00 PM
at Envy Night Club, England – London

Where do I get my ticket?
Get your ticket at 

Give me more info now:
OK .OK. visit the website on
t shirt printing, screen printing, embroidery


The British Garment Decorators Federation (BGDF) website has a new face. They have revamped the forum, made great improvements to the design and navigation. The refined topics and a better user experience should provide a greater level of social networking.

Its forum is a free internet networking resource portal for garment and promotional product decorators with no administrative charges, membership fees or any other hidden costs.

The BGDF is run on behalf of all British and European promotional textile and promotional product decorators and embroiderers and their associated suppliers.

The BGDF offers free membership to all sectors of the promotional goods and garment decorating sector, either those acting as a decorator or as a supplier to the industry. The BGDF seeks to further encourage good business practices and ethical trading policies for the betterment and greater reward to those operating in the industry it serves.

The BGDF is not acting as a trade association as trade associations charge membership fees. Therefore we do not seek to represent the industry but have formed the Federation to assist those working within the industry. We freely give our time over to the running of the BGDF and we do so because we are passionate about helping others to build better businesses.
t shirt printing, screen printing, embroidery



Ever rising giants of casual menswear, ONETrueSaxon have unleashed their very own brand of classic styling on the world with their first ever stand alone store – such important fashion moments need a VIP launch party, and October were happy to supply the T-s (still a few of these limited edition lovelies left, check out the phone number below!) Tucked away in a sleepy corner of Nottingham, The Casual Tailor will act as a flagship for the brand while housing other esteemed friends such as Berghaus, Hunter, Clerk & Teller, Oipolloi and Brady Bags. ..
For those of us prepared to hunt for premium quality garms, they have hidden this little gem down a quiet side street, shying away from the bright lights of the city centre. In the style of an original gentleman’s outfitters with buzzer entry only, this destination store is being retained for the most esteemed connoisseurs of British casualwear and perhaps the odd less refined scoundrel.


Once inside, the finery on display sits amongst deer heads, weathered wooden cabinets and opulent mirrors. In order to offer the utmost style advice to the discerning ONETrueSaxon punter this esteemed establishment will be manned by the honourable folk behind the brand itself.
Add in antique timepieces and military watches alongside Scottish cashmere scarves, Cheeky Weasel belts and cufflinks and even undergarments from the resplendent Sunspel and your entire wardrobe is complete.
“It’s not your normal store but then we’re not your normal retailer”

ONETrueSaxon Ltd.
54a High Pavement
The Lace Market
Nottingham. NG1 1HW
P +44 115 9859684.
F +44 115 9859678.
Mobile +44 7738 347728