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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 has launched a report dubbed “Plan A” to affirm its commitment to global social and environmental issues. But how well does M&S really measure up ethically with its commitment to animals, the planet, and its workers? Read on to find out as we answer the question: how ethical is Marks & Spencer? This article is based on the Marks & Spencer rating published in August 2021.
Marks & Spencer’s environment rating is ‘It’s A Start’. It uses some eco-friendly materials including recycled materials. It has set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its own operations and supply chain and it is on track to meet its target. It had also set a deadline to eliminate all hazardous chemicals by 2020 which unfortunately wasn’t met, and it has set a new target but there is no evidence the brand is on track to meet it. And while it does implement some water reduction initiatives, there is still more work to be done.
For people, Marks & Spencer has received ‘It’s A Start’ once again. The brand received a middle-of-the-road score of 41-50% in the Fashion Transparency Index. And while it publishes detailed information about suppliers, audits, and policies, and some information about forced labour, gender equality, or freedom of association, there is a crucial ingredient missing: payment of a living wage. You can do better, M&S!
The brand also gets ‘It’s A Start’ for our animal friends. It has a formal animal welfare policy aligned with Five Freedoms, and traces some animal products to the first stage of production. While it does use wool, it comes from non-mulesed sheep, and its down is accredited by the Responsible Down Standard. However, it continues to use leather and exotic animal hair.
Overall Rating: It’s A Start
Overall, Good On You gives beloved high-street brand Marks & Spencer an ‘It’s A Start’: you can read more in our post about what our ‘It’s A Start’ rating really means. While it is making efforts across the board for people, the planet, and animals, we need to see more fulfilment of commitments across the supply chain for the brand to reach ‘Good’ again.
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.
Check out our handy guides to ethical maternity clothing and size inclusive affordable brands. There are also some ‘Good’ and ‘Great’ sustainable alternatives to Marks & Spencer below that might meet your needs!