The What, Why, and How of Transparency
We talk about transparency a lot in the ethical shopping world. Maybe you hear this term thrown around. Many stores claim to be sustainable or to have ethical production chains, but aren't transparent about how they achieve these goals. We need to call for more transparency in politics, government, business, and science.
But what does it mean to be transparent? Why is it so important to demand transparency? And what are we doing at Lucia's to promote transparency in the fair trade world?
What is It?
Transparency is all about sharing information. However, a business is not necessarily meeting the mark just because they publish their quarterly reports. A truly transparent company will make these kinds of documents available, but they will also make them easy to find and to understand. They will make it a priority to tell customers where product comes from, how it's made, and the kinds of impacts it has on people in the production chain and the environment. A transparent company is also willing to quickly answer questions and to find information that might be missing from a customer's view.
Here are a few examples that we think show good transparency about a product:
The Chindi Shoulder Tote: Unique, round chindi shoulder bag handcrafted in Rajasthan with sustainable jute fibers and vibrant cotton textiles. Chindi weaving is a traditional and cultural art form which gives natural and upcycled materials new purpose in modern, everyday designs. This eye-catching bag features a sturdy shoulder strap and a spacious, unlined interior with no closure.
Kantha Mini Hoops: Small, colorful Kantha beads form the perfect little hoop. Each piece is made from recycled Kantha textiles, so colors and patterns are all one-of-a-kind and will vary. Measures 1.3″ long with post backs. Sustainably handmade by women artisans in India.
Why is It Important?
Having all of this information at your fingertips sounds convenient, but also maybe a little bit overwhelming. When we're shopping, often our main concerns are more about things like fit, style, and function. So, why do you, as a consumer, need to care about transparency? Why would you want to be given so much information about a product?
There are two main reasons. The first is about your rights as a consumer. By withholding information, companies take away your decision making power. They may actively be hiding truths about human rights violations, environmental damage, or product quality. More information is more power.
This leads to the second reason why transparency is important. Free information about good and bad practices gives consumers and regulators the power to hold companies accountable. When everyone participates in transparent actions, it is much easier to push for progress. The people responsible for harmful actions can be identified. The businesses responsible for choosing locations for ethical production can be much more easily supported.
Here you can see how some major brands stack up against the transparency standards that allow for more power in the hands of makers and consumers.
What are We Doing About It?
At Lucia's we participate in three main actions that ensure a high standard of transparency for every item and action in the shop.
First and foremost, we are active members of the Fair Trade Federation. This means that we only offer items from vendors who have successfully completed a rigorous evaluation on transparency and ethics in their production chains. These vendors also commonly work on a small scale and value relationship building with their makers and artisans. This ensures an ever-improving business model that positively impacts the communities who make the goods we sell.
Second, we regularly update our product and vendor information. We pride ourselves on offering detailed descriptions of materials, production methods, and impacts for our products.
Finally, we have a well trained and passionate staff. If you are ever curious to learn more about how we work, anyone on our team can find the information that you are looking for. We love to hear from our fair trade family, and we are always happy to have a conversation about how to build a more equitable and sustainable world for shoppers. Just give us a call, send an email, or DM us on social media.