Speaking of Gaiam, while shopping there, I noticed that none of its bedding product descriptions included a brand name. Which is less than shocking, given that things like comforters and sheets belong to that humongous class of objects whose faceless manufacturers bear no relation to whatever brand ultimately gets slapped onto them.
But since the site presents itself in such a green light, I wondered what Gaiam could tell me about where its bedding products come from. The answer is, not a lot. The friendly customer-service rep I got on the phone said that manufacturer names are not shared, lest the competition find out.
So, did he have any idea where, say, Gaiam’s organic cotton sheets were manufactured? “Some are made in India,” he said. “None are made in China, I believe.” Hmm. OK. And were they made in an environmentally sustainable way? “Yes. All organic cotton has to be. You can’t have an organic cotton label if pesticides were used.”
What about working conditions? “Well, that’s one of the most difficult areas to track down,” he said. “We try to participate in the global marketplace in a responsible way, but it’s really hard to know these things. You kind of have to take companies at their word, unless you go there.”
Understandable, but it still sucks.
Keep in mind, he added, that we’re still in the beginning stages of this new emerging global economy, and more and more consumers are starting to demand sustainably produced goods. “As demand picks up, even companies that are lying [about their practices] will be forced to be accountable.”
All right, then. Let’s pick up the pace.