How Ethical Is Marks & Spencer?

By December 17, 2018Big Brands
a women wears a burgundy shirt and a black skirt

Marks & Spencer is one of the UK’s most iconic brands that has been a high street feature for over a century. The brand caters to a diverse audience providing a plus size, maternity and petite range. Marks & Spencer have launched a report dubbed “Plan A” to affirm their commitment to global social and environmental issues. But how well do M&S really measure up ethically with their commitment to animals, the planet and their workers? Read on to find out!

Planet:

Marks & Spencer’s commitment to the environment is seen with their emphasis on high-quality and long-lasting products. Like many other brands leading sustainability in the fashion industry, they use materials that are eco-friendly such as recycled nylons, recycled polyesters and organic cotton. They also offer a recycling program to shoppers, and we see them on the famed Greenpeace Detox Catwalk.
M&S has set a deadline to eliminate all hazardous chemicals from their production by 2020. When considering our most precious resource, water, they have shown their commitment to our planet by implementing water reduction initiatives. But M&S lets us down by not providing any specific targets. Meanwhile, plastic is the other material on everyone’s environmentally conscious mind. M&S see plastic as a last resort and have made a commitment to design plastic out and replace it with planet-friendly alternatives when they can. The brand hopes to eliminate 1,000 tons of plastic over the next year!

We give M&S a ‘Good’ for their environment rating. Not all their materials are eco-friendly materials, and they still have a way to go with setting specific targets for their embodied water.
Let’s see if they can reduce their hazardous chemical, water and plastic use for a better rating in the future.

People:

For their labour rating, Marks & Spencer have received a ‘Good’. The brand is certified by SEDEX Members Ethical Trade Audit who look at universal human rights in business practices and global supply chains. M&S are on a quest to be a leader in the abolishment of Modern Slavery, human trafficking and all forms of discrimination from their business. However, the brand still operates in some high-risk countries in Asia. Here, they have not adequately addressed these issues around worker empowerment and relationships with suppliers hence their not yet perfect rating.

Animals:

Unfortunately, the animal rating of Marks & Spencer is the brands lowest rating at ‘It’s A Start’.  The brand uses leather, down and cashmere without being transparent about its sources. However, they do comply with the Responsible Wool Standard with their use of wool. Plus, M&S has taken the step not to use fur, angora and other exotic animal skins! Here is hoping they keep it this way.

Overall Rating: GoY-Ratings_4

Overall, Good On You gives beloved high-street brand Marks & Spencer a ‘Good’. Their actions towards the environment and their labour policies provide us with hope for big brands in future. However, there is still room for improvement, especially with the prioritisation of animal welfare.

Charlotte Brown

Author Charlotte Brown

Charlotte is an intern with Good On You who works to dispel the myth that sustainable fashion is plain by wearing bold, colourful clothing. Charlotte currently studies her MA in Responsible Management and Sustainable Economic Development in Costa Rica.

More posts by Charlotte Brown

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.