Good On You, the Australian Sustainability Rating Platform has Consumers Looking Good and Feeling Good.
By Lizzie Zarrello.
Consumers are increasingly more aware of fast fashion’s impact on the environment. But finding brands that are both affordable and sustainable is difficult, as many brands’ environmental information is not always easily accessible. The Australian app Good On You is hoping to bridge that gap with an online database that allows consumers to navigate the hunt for sustainable and ethical clothing with ease.
Launched in 2015, Good On You now has thousands of fashion brands. Cofounders Gordon Renouf and Sandra Capponi created an accessible way for good intentioned designers to connect with the goal of growing a community of environmentally conscious consumers. They began conceptualizing Good On You in 2013, the same year the Rana Plaza disaster killed over 1,000 Bangladeshi factory workers who manufactured clothing for European and American brands. This motivated them to create an accessible way to educate consumers on the conditions in which their products are produced.
The database allows shoppers to search for products and view sustainability ratings created by Good On You. As stated by Gordon Renouf in an interview with Mission, “ratings are based on the key idea that you have a right to know how a brand impacts the issues you care about. As citizens and consumers, we have a right to make responsible and sustainable choices. Brands have a corresponding obligation to be fully transparent about how their operations impact the issues consumers are passionate about.”
Good On You researches the many environmental factors that result from creating and selling clothing, which it then uses to give a brand a ranking, from 1 meaning “We Avoid” this brand, to 5, this is a “Great” brand. Good On You does not source information from the companies it lists, but uses only data that is accessible to the public. “We expect brands to publish specific information relevant to all important sustainability metrics. Where brands fail to respond to shoppers’ right to know, they are marked down consistent with the widespread acceptance of the need for transparency,” Renouf said.
Currently Good On You only collects this information on clothing, due to its particular impact on the environment. “More than 80 million people work in the fashion industry, a large proportion of them in very poor working conditions, and fashion is responsible for very significant environmental harm including perhaps as much as 10 percent of global greenhouse emissions according to the United Nations Environment Program.” However, Renouf and Capponi hope to expand to include beauty products, homewares, and electronics, given that conscious shoppers are always searching for sustainability outside of the fashion industry.
Although platforms like Good On You can make this information more accessible, there are still many misconceptions around sustainable practices in fashion. The first being “Greenwashing,” “a marketing tactic used to portray an organization’s products, activities, or policies as environmentally friendly when they’re anything but,” as Renouf explained. Many brands claim to be environmentally friendly by overstating their donations to organizations and minimizing package waste, or by releasing “eco-friendly” collections when most of their inventory is not sustainably produced. Other products are made with natural fibers and local materials, however that doesn’t mean the material is sustainable.
Those small changes don’t mean a brand is entirely sustainable. “Each of these is valuable but they are much easier and less significant than addressing the key issues in your supply chain like the environmental impacts of the materials you choose or the working conditions and wages of the people who grow and process raw materials or cut and sew the clothes,” Renouf said.
More education can help consumers make smarter decisions. Whether it’s by purchasing sustainable clothes, secondhand clothes, or repurposing lost treasures in your closet, these choices can place pressures on brands to change their practices and help make a sustainable future for fashion. “Good On You started because we believe all of our actions have the power to create positive change,” Renouf noted. “As shoppers, the choices we make every day can have a direct impact on the environment, workers, or animals, but they also send a signal to the industry about what’s really important.”
Image credit: Unsplash