I'm Not an Ethical Bag; Sellout 'Green' Carrier Is Made in China with Cheap Labour

The Evening Standard (London, England), April 27, 2007 | Go to article overview

I'm Not an Ethical Bag; Sellout 'Green' Carrier Is Made in China with Cheap Labour


THE designer shopping bag aimed at promoting green awareness was made using cheap labour in China, according to an Evening Standard investigation.

The "I'm not a plastic bag" bag became a must-have fashion item even before 20,000 of them sold out within an hour at Sainsbury's. Women queued from 3am to get one of the [pounds sterling]5 cotton bags made by designer Anya Hindmarch - they are now changing hands on eBay for [pounds sterling]225.

At the first sales of the bag, Hindmarch said: "The idea was to create something that was really desirable to highlight ethical issues." Today Sainsbury's was accused of hypocrisy after it admitted the bag was made in China and was neither organic nor fair trade. The chairman of an influential Commons committee said Sainsbury's had "tarnished" its image as a promoter of fair trade products.

A campaign group highlighting the exploitation of workers in the fashion industry said making the bag in China dented the bag's ethical claims.

The fact the bags have been sent thousands of miles from Asia raised questions about whether its carbon footprint is threatening to offset its environmental benefits.

A spokeswoman for the designer admitted the bag, billed as "making a difference to the world", was "not perfect". A Sainsbury's spokeswoman said: "While the bag is made in China it is not manufactured with 'cheap' labour nor does it exploit local workers." The spokeswoman did not name the factory, but claimed: "The factory pays

double the Chinese minimum wage for that province. The factory also complies with all aspects of Chinese labour law andworks with an international human rights consultant who advises to review its operations. …

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