We take ethics seriously, bringing you sweatshop-free products without any child labor. All of our t-shirts use fair trade cotton made in the USA, including our regular t-shirts. The manufacturer’s working conditions are closely monitored through a transparent Code of Conduct and regular independent audits. This article gives details about our fair labor certifications, the manufacturer’s ethical guidelines and code of conduct, as well as the country of origin of the products and the cotton raw material.
Fair labor certifications
All of our products (including imported apparel) are approved by independent fair labor certifications and ethical seals such as :
- Fair Labor Association (FLA)
- Worldwide Responsible Apparel Foundation (WRAP)
- Vérité Fair Labor
- Empowering Ethical Supply Chains (SEDEX)
- Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA)
- California Safety Compliance Corporation (CSCC)
- Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI-Intl)
- Social Accountability 8000 (SA8000)
The clothing is also environment-friendly approved by Oeko-Tex Certification Class 100
Ethical Guidelines – Code of Conduct for manufacturers and their supply chain
Our manufacturer partner requires all of its suppliers to sign their “Ethical Guidelines Code of Conduct” to ensure fair production conditions and ethical standards. This includes, among other labor standards, the assured prevention of child labor and the guarantee of fair payment. To ensure these standards, our partner works with suppliers who bindingly sign the Code of Conduct, or provide similar binding assurances of their own. In addition, our partner works to gather detailed information about the supplier’s production conditions such as Social Audit Reports and monitoring.
Our exclusive manufacturing partner, defined as SPRD, Inc in the following text, is a contractor working with the cooperative to supply us with clothing and products to be printed on. SPRD has designed a code of conduct to create humane conditions at work worldwide. Contractual partners of SPRD are obligated to sign this code of conduct and adhere to it if they cannot present a similar document.
This partnership with a business specialized in the clothing industry allows us to ensure the whole supply chain is closely monitored to prevent ethical issues and ensure decent working conditions
All manufacturers of the products sold on this website adhere to this Code of Conduct, even our cheaper imported t-shirts. This Code of Conduct applies to contractual partners as well as their subsidiaries.
1. The Scope of the Code
This Code of Conduct applies to the shop, to SPRD’s contractual partners as well as their subsidiaries.
2. Legal Compliance
The contractual partners must follow their relative applicable national and international laws, particularly the labor and social laws. In addition, this Code of Conduct, which states the fundamental labor and social standards, is based on the ILO Conventions, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child and on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, as well as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.
The SPRD Code of Conduct describes only the ensured minimum standards for the protection of employees. If the provisions of national and international legislation and / or industry standards and this Code of Conduct contain rules on the same subject, then the strictest regulations shall apply.
3. Information and Communication
The contractual partners must make the SPRD Code of Conduct freely accessible to all employees in their language and in the relevant work areas.
Contractual partners who operate with third parties (producers, subcontractors etc.) are required to make the SPRD Code of Conduct a central idea of this concrete business relationship.
The contractual partner must designate a specific contact person to handle questions of implementation and observance of this Code of Conduct.
4. Inspection and Monitoring
The business partners agree and understand that the adherence to the minimum requirements and standards of this Code of Conduct can be monitored at any time, either by employees of SPRD or by independent organizations.
a) Working Hours
A work week includes a maximum of 48 hours as well as a maximum of 12 overtime hours. Every employee is entitled to at least one day off from work per week. Overtime will be paid corresponding to the legal regulations or the industry’s regional practices, whichever of those has a higher standard.
ILO-Conventions 1 and 14 apply.
b) No Child Labor
Employees must be at least 15 years of age and cannot be less than the age of completion of compulsory schooling. Child labor and the supply of services by children is prohibited. The definition of child labor is determined by the United Nations regulations or the nation’s specific applicable regulations, whichever of those is more stringent.
ILO-Conventions 79, 138, 142 and 182 as well as ILO-Recommendation 146 apply.
c) Forced Labor
Employment must be freely chosen and must be established on the basis of employment forms which follow the national laws and procedures. Forced labor, bonded labor or slave labor is not tolerated.
Employees’ identity papers may not be retained. The employees may not be prevented from leaving the place of work.
ILO-Conventions 29 and 105 apply.
d) Prison Labor
Prison labor is forbidden.
e) Equal Treatment
Every employee is to be treated fairly and according to the principle of equality. This means that no employee may be discriminated against or preferred according to differences in race, religion, age, social backgrounds, political attitude, gender, sexual orientation or position in the company.
ILO-Conventions 100, 111, 143, 158 and 159 apply.
f) Dignity in the Working Environment
Human dignity is inviolable and therefore to be implicitly respected in the workplace. Forced labor, harassment, physical or mental coercion and degrading methods of discipline or punishment are prohibited.
g) Working Contracts
Employees must receive a written contract for the documentation of their terms of employment. This documentation must indicate at a minimum: Name of the employee, date of birth, place of birth, home address, function, starting date of contract, agreed hours of work, salary and further compensation, probation period (if applicable), holiday entitlements, regulations for the termination of the working relationship (both by employer and employee), date and signature or thumb print of the employee as well as the employer.
In cases of illiteracy, the terms of the contract must be additionally communicated verbally. This is to be documented in writing.
The wages must meet the basic needs of the employee and must never fall below the legally prescribed minimum wage for that country. The employees must receive all benefits mandated by national law, e.g. insurance contributions, premium payments for overtime and paid holidays. Illegal and unauthorized deductions as well as disciplinary deductions are forbidden.
The wages should be provided in accordance with the local common practice.
ILO-Conventions 26 and 131 apply.
i) Occupational Safety
The safety of the employee in the workplace is to be guaranteed. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure this to its full extent. All of the respective nation’s current industrial safety regulations are to be complied with, as well as the relevant legal regulations with regard to the exposure to harmful substances. Thus, use of dangerous chemicals, which leave residue and could be harmful to one’s health, are prohibited. Similar regulations apply to working conditions with regard to noise levels, fire, sanitation, ventilation, etc. and for the employees’ accommodation, if such are provided. Access to First Aid and emergency/evacuation plans must be present. Furthermore, all regulations are to be ensured for the protection the environment.
j) Freedom of Association
The employees may not be prevented from participation in the freedom of association. They have the right to join trade unions or other labor organizations as well as the right to collective bargaining in accordance with local laws.
ILO-Conventions 87, 98, 135 and 154 as well as the ILO-Recommendation 143 apply.
SPRD, Inc. requires that the above provisions are followed by all contractors, employees, subcontractors and other third parties.
The resulting requirements of this Code of Conduct may not be circumvented through the use of contract work, pseudo training programs or similar measures. Under pseudo training programmes are especially those which do not have the objective of propagating employees’ knowledge or skills.
SPRD, Inc. reserves the right to withdraw from the business relationship in the case of any violation of the above. The aim of cooperation would be to clarify problems and, in the possible case of violation, to improve the situation together.
MANUFACTURER – We, the undersigned, attest to having read and understood the contents of the SPRD Code of Conduct, and agree to comply with the resulting obligations.
Location, Date, Company Stamp, Signature, Name and Position of the Signatory
Products country of origin
All of our clothing is printed, processed, packaged and shipped from the United States.
We usually offer two types of products manufacturers options – either imported or produced locally. The most ethical t-shirts are of course the local products but the downside is the premium price. However, we understand that most of our working class customers are on a budget and sometimes prefer the cheapest option available. That’s why we give the choice between two options and also offer regular t-shirts at $15 – but we still make sure to always use brands among the most ethical in the imported clothing industry.
The brands we carry will depend on availability and other factors, therefore we can’t provide the details about each manufacturer and product origin in this F.A.Q. but you can contact us to get specific information.
Our t-shirts are made of cotton ethically produced in the United States
The vast majority of the cotton used by our t-shirts manufacturers is produced in the United States, including even our standard t-shirts and imported products. US cotton farmers are required to adhere to strict US labor laws and regulations. These regulations are most likely some of the most stringent in the cotton growing industry globally. They provide workers with ethical workplaces and because cotton is regulated as a food crop, workplace health and safety conditions mirror those of the vast majority of the foods we find on our tables.
Regulated as a food and fiber crop under strict U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) standards, cotton grown in the USA represents the best combination of quality and value for cotton and cotton blended products. Under the guidance of the National Cotton Council, USDA and various other organisations, US farmers have continuously reduced their environmental footprint by constantly improving their agricultural practices.
Under the guidance of the USDA, the National Cotton Council (NCC) and various other organizations, US Cotton farmers have partnered with industry and academia in order to develop and implement numerous agricultural conservation practices and technologies. These technologies have resulted in a dramatically reduced environmental footprint.
Seed varieties have increased production yields while lowering water, land and energy, and further reducing the frequency and intensity of chemical applications. Conservation agriculture practices and advanced soil monitoring systems have reduced soil erosion and residual impacts on the environment. GPS positioning and advanced delivery systems allow farmers to be more efficient while planting, fertilizing and harvesting, effectively allowing for a reduction in GHG emissions and environmental impacts on the land and neighboring ecosystems.
Some U.S. Cotton facts:
– The US Cotton industry as a whole employs over 126,000 employees, whose farms output is valued in excess of 3.5 billion. The economic impact of all parts of the US Cotton industry are estimated to be in excess of $21 billion
– U.S. cotton is regulated as a food crop as well as a fiber crop by U.S. regulatory agencies (USDA, USEPA and FDA). It is therefore subject to the same rigorous environmental standards as food producers.
– U.S. Cotton growers offer ethical and safe work environments respecting employee rights according to the laws and regulations as set forth under U.S. law and OSHA.
– U.S. Cotton is a drought and heat-tolerant crop, with two-thirds of a planted acreage requiring no supplemental irrigation in addition to rainfall.
– Two-thirds of U.S. growers use conservation tillage, which saves about 907 million metric tons of soil per year and over one billion liters of tractor fuel. Conservation tillage is a method different than conventional tillage. It reduces soil erosion and therefore nutrient loss. It also increases the soil’s moisture and organic matter content.
– U.S. cotton is a net greenhouse gas (GHG) absorber. More GHGs are absorbed in the fiber, plants and soil than those GHGs emitted during the entire agricultural cycle: field preparation through harvest.
We boycott cotton from Uzbekistan’s forced labor
Every year the Government of Uzbekistan, one of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, forces over 1 million of Uzbek citizens to leave their regular jobs and go to the fields to pick cotton for weeks in arduous and hazardous conditions. Many people have died in fields from extreme heat and accidents. According to several human rights organizations, slavery-like practices are used in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields.
Read more about Uzbekistan cotton here:
The vast majority of the cotton used by our t-shirts manufacturer is produced in the United States. Notwithstanding this fact, our supplier requires all business partners to confirm, by means of a signed statement, that they do not use or procure any cotton fiber originating from Uzbekistan.
In 2013, our t-shirts manufacturers established a cotton traceability assessment for its cotton yarn suppliers in order to ensure that the cotton, yarn or products they supplied did not contain cotton originating from Uzbekistan. The suppliers included in the assessment were selected according to several risk factors that include their proximity to Uzbekistan, and the quantities of yarn purchased by our t-shirts manufacturer or third party contractors manufacturing their products.
Respect of the environment
To find out more about our eco-responsible policies, please refer to this article:
Eco-responsibility, environment-friendly practices and use of non-chemical inks