So, the other day I wanted to buy some new jeans. I'm quite interested in where & how my clothes (and indeed, other products that I use) are produced; I try to purchase *ethically* produced clothing when I can. So, Marks & Spencer have this Plan A scheme which has five pillars: Climate Change, Waste, Sustainable Raw Materials, Fair Partner and Health. This sounds amazing, it is really amazing! In particular the Fair Partner section has the following information (taken from marksandspencer.com):
As an own brand, with influence over a quarter of a million workers worldwide, we have a golden opportunity to set new standards in ethical trading. For example, by extending our commitment to Fairtrade cotton we can directly affect the welfare of over 100,000 small-scale farmers. The extra income raised by fair trading also enables communities to invest in wells for clean water or improve healthcare facilities. The stories in this section will help you learn more about our efforts to improve the livelihoods of our suppliers and their communities all over the globe.
I've bought a pair of jeans from the Marks & Spencer in Jersey which were part of the Plan A scheme, so here in London I went to the Covent Garden store. There are signs on most walls talking about Plan A, but I could find no clothes. I ask the lady at the counter where I could find some of the Plan A clothes. She replied with something along the lines of "Plan what?"... she had no idea what it was. I had to explain that it was their name for the scheme which include fair trade products. "Oh yes, the Fairtrade clothes...... we don't have any". None at all, in the whole store, in London!!! I then went to the bigger store on Oxford Street and attempted to find some Plan A clothes there too... none (either that or they were hiding from me).
So, it seems as if Plan A is just the corporate image that M&S wish to push (and they do very vigourously), without actually following up on it at all.
What a joke.