21 Jan

How Ethical is Kmart?

Kmart is one of the most popular discount department stores in Australia. While there’s no denying Kmart is a quick and convenient go-to for clothing, we have to ask ourselves if affordability and availability trump ethical considerations. As ethical consumers, we have the right to know how a brand treats the earth and its inhabitants before we decide on our purchases. So, how does Kmart rate?

Environmental Impact: Not Good Enough

Kmart is starting to make progress in this category with a number of recently released environmental policies targeting their direct operations. However, there is still considerable room to improve the ambition and scope of these policies, particularly extending beyond their direct operation and more towards their supply chain. They have a target to reduce their non-textile waste to landfill by 30% by 2020, although it is worth noting that this target is pegged against units sold, rather than absolutely reducing waste by 30%. As such, overall waste levels may still go up, even if efficiency levels increase.

They report on their direct and indirect emissions and have an energy efficiency target to reduce average energy consumption from their stores by at least 20% by 2020, although they have not stated whether this would reduce GHG emissions by the same number, although it is likely that it will. There is no evidence it is taking adequate steps to minimise hazardous chemicals in its supply chain or that it has adequate policies or initiatives on water usage and waste water, going so far as to incorrectly suggest that water is not a material issue for the company.

Labour Conditions: Good

Kmart’s labour rating is ‘Good’ based on the 2018 Ethical Fashion Report. This includes criteria such as payment of a living wage, worker empowerment, and transparency. Here, the company received a top score for their Supplier Code of Conduct. It traces most of its supply chain including final stage, inputs and raw materials and publicly list some of their suppliers. Most of their traced facilities are audited over a two-year period across the entire supply chain. While these are definitely positives, Kmart has minimal worker empowerment initiatives and received a low-to-medium score in relation to implementing a living wage.

Breaking News: K-Mart recently announced improvements to its labour policies including that it is working with labour unions to increase wages in supplier countries. It has been rated B+ for labour rights in the Baptist World Aid Ethical Fashion Report, an increase on 2017. We have updated K-Mart’s labour rating in response.

Animal Welfare: Not Good Enough

Kmart’s animal welfare rating is ‘not good enough’. They use leather, wool and down feather without specifying sources. If you care about our fellow earthlings, steer clear of brands that don’t tell you where their animal-based materials come from!

Overall Rating: Not Good Enough

Rated: Not Good Enough

Kmart has received an overall rating of ‘Not Good Enough’ based on the 2017 Ethical Fashion Report and our own research. Like many fast fashion brands, Kmart’s current business model is not ethically sound, and they need to make significant efforts in all areas to improve their impact on people, the planet, and animals. While Kmart may be off the cards for now - don’t fret!

Editor's note

Feature image via Kmart, 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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