Working towards a sustainable future requires a collective effort from businesses and consumers alike, and the increasing awareness of where our clothes, food, and everyday items come from has the power to instigate positive change. In the age of information and transparency, it is crucial for companies to operate ethically and responsibly, not only to retain their customers but also to set a new standard for socially responsible business.
From reducing waste to improving working conditions, there are many ways in which companies can ensure they operate sustainably. Here are our top three UK businesses leading the way in social responsibility across a variety of industries.
The Fashion Brand: FatFace
In recent years, the so-called ‘fast fashion industry’ has come under scrutiny for the ways in which affordable garments are produced, with the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh bringing the issue of worker conditions to the fore. Consumers can actively stand up for workers’ rights by buying their clothes from an ethical store, such as UK-based lifestyle clothing and accessories retailer FatFace.
Established in 1988, FatFace is known for its all-encompassing social responsibility policy, from human rights to animal welfare and environmental issues. FatFace is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, ensuring transparent audit results regarding the ethical standards of suppliers, and only work with product suppliers who have signed an environmental policy. A fairly priced high street brand, FatFace has successfully shown that there is no reason why fashion cannot be both ethical and affordable.
The Food Shop: The Co-Operative
The issue of food sustainability is widely recognised as a key factor in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and food manufacturers and supermarkets are therefore increasingly expected to take responsibility for the environment. As the first supermarket to stock only Fairtrade bananas, the Co-Op has been an ambassador for social responsibility since its formation over 150 years ago, and has won many accolades for its ethical retailing.
In addition, the Co-Op has been quick to take part in waste reduction initiatives, supporting WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste campaign since it started in 2007. Acknowledging that food waste is predominantly a household problem, the Co-Op have taken an active approach to helping consumers through clearer product labelling as well as advice and guidance in their free in-store magazine, showing that true social commitment extends far beyond profits.
The Start-Up: Eve
Social responsibility is not only an issue for larger brick-and-mortar corporations, with many start-ups also recognising their role in a more sustainable future. Eve are a burgeoning company who are extremely unique in their local focus, designing and manufacturing luxury mattresses within the UK. Their 10 year warranty on every product is an active step towards minimising disposable consumer culture in favour of more sustainable, durable products, as any returned mattresses are recycled and turned into PE mats and emergency equipment.
Given that some ecommerce companies are considered to be more environmentally friendly in that they eliminate the need for consumers to travel, it’s extremely promising that such businesses are seeking additional ways to benefit the community at large.