13 May

How Ethical Is Bonds?

From humble beginnings as a Sydney cotton mill over 100 years ago, Bonds has grown to become the number one underwear brand in Australia. It’s fair to say Aussies love their bonds, but do we love the company’s ethical practices? We take a look at what goes on behind the scenes to see if Bonds truly live up to its good reputation.

Environmental Impact:

Since last year, Bonds improved it’s rating from ‘Very Poor’ to ‘It’s a Start’, which is great to see! It uses some eco-friendly materials including organic cotton and it has set an intensity greenhouse emissions reduction target to reduce emissions in its own operations by 40% by the year 2020.

However it has not set a supply chain target. Bonds also complies with a Restricted Substances List, but it has made no commitment to eliminate hazardous chemicals from its supply chain. Finally, the brand measures and reports on water usage and wastewater management and publicly reports on targets.

Labour Conditions:

Bonds score a much higher, ‘Good’, when it comes to their labour conditions, based on the 2018 Ethical Fashion Report, which looks at criteria including payment of a living wage, transparency and worker empowerment. Bonds does a good job tracing its supply chain including final stage, inputs and raw materials, and it publicly lists key suppliers along with their addresses and any subcontracting adheres to code standards. It also audits most of its traced facilities over a two-year period across the entire supply chain.

It has a Code of Conduct that covers all of the ILO principles. It has good worker empowerment initiatives across some of its supply chain and the brand has made some progress towards paying a living wage across its supply chain.

These are solid achievements and Bonds should be commended for their overall treatment of its workers.

Animal Welfare:

Bonds’ animal welfare rating is ‘It’s a Start’. While it doesn’t use fur, leather, angora, or exotic animal hair or skin, it does use wool and mohair without specifying sources. This means that its wool may come from mulesed sheep. The cruel mohair industry is also something you don’t want to support as a conscious consumer. It is simply unnecessary for Bonds to include such materials in their products when, so many ethical, alternatives exist.

Overall Rating: It's A Start

Rated: It's A Start

Overall, we rate Bonds as 'It's a Start' based on information from our own research. While it does well on the labour front and is getting there in terms of animal welfare, its lack of targets when it comes to environmental impact brings down its overall score.

Don’t let this bring you down, though! There are plenty of ethical alternatives for underwear, sleepwear and casualwear rated ‘Good’ or ‘Great’ in the Good On You app that deserve your support! Here are just some of our faves.

Editor's note: this article was updated in May 2019. Feature image via Bonds, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You has big plans for ethical fashion in 2019! To support our work, we may earn a commission on sales made using our offers code or affiliate links.

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