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.
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.
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.
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.