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Bonds is the number one underwear brand in Australia, but how ethical is Bonds? Here’s why the brand is “Not Good Enough” for people, the planet, and animals. This article is based on the Bonds rating published in August 2020.
Bonds has to put in the work
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.
Bonds seems to have an on-again-off-again, love-hate relationship with the planet. Its rating here has gone up and down over the years as it sets but doesn’t follow up on goals, a classic case of greenwashing in the fast fashion industry. Its latest score here is “Not Good Enough”.
It uses some eco-friendly materials including organic cotton and recycled PET plastic, and it has set an absolute target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its own operations. It also reuses some of its offcuts to minimise textile waste. However, it has not set a supply chain target for emissions reduction, and has made no commitment to eliminate hazardous chemicals from its supply chain.
The rollercoaster continues with labour conditions. Bonds was scoring well on the labour front with a “Good” rating a couple years ago, but it has taken a dive and landed on “Not Good Enough” in the latest review. Despite some signs of decent progress over the years, it only scored 31-40% in the Fashion Transparency Index. The brand was also lauded last year for taking another step towards payment of a living wage in its supply chain, but until it actually implements fair wages its score will likely remain low.
Bonds makes products that are generally free of animal materials except for silk so it is not applicable to rate its impact on animals. We calculate the overall rating from environment and labour scores only.
Overall rating: Not Good Enough
Overall, we rate Bonds “Not Good Enough” based on information from our own research. While it is taking some steps towards more earth- and people-friendly conduct, it needs to follow through on its commitments and make real change if it is going to achieve a higher score. Note that Good On You ratings consider 100s of issues, and it is not possible to list every relevant issue in a summary of the brand’s performance. For more information, see our How We Rate page and our FAQs.
Don’t let this bring you down, though. There are plenty of ethical alternatives for underwear, sleepwear, and babywear rated “Good” or “Great” that deserve your support. Here are just some of our faves.
Ethical alternatives to Bonds