Zara is a fast fashion company, and therefore, is often referred to as unethical. Fast fashion and unethical practices often go together, which is why this company has garnered this reputation.
However, this begs the question- is Zara actually unethical? Well, to find out, keep reading this article to see what I discovered!
Is Zara Ethical in 2024?
For the most part, Zara is not ethical in 2024. This company is known for its fast fashion, which means that the clothes are often overproduced. This leads to lots of waste. Furthermore, Zara is known for its labor violations. For instance, this company is known for using slave-like labor and even child labor in some situations.
For more information on how Zara may be unethical, including if this company is involved in child labor, keep reading!
Why Is Zara So Unethical?
Zara has been called unethical by many people for a variety of different reasons. Let’s quickly break these down.
Firstly, the company has a significant environmental impact because of over-production.
As a fast fashion company, Zara produces many styles very quickly. The clothes aren’t made to last long, as customers are expected to always be purchasing new styles.
In the end, this leads to more textile waste, and in turn produces a lot of pollution and greenhouse gasses.
Secondly, Zara has a number of labor violations that we likely don’t have the full story of.
Usually, around 50% of Zara’s late-stage production takes place in Spain, where labor violations aren’t all that common.
However, the company also produces clothes in places like China and Brazil, where there have been claims of slave-like labor.
Furthermore, we do know that the company pays very low wages in these areas.
Luckily, the company does have an animal welfare policy. Basically, this includes a ban on many furs. Animal products must come from domesticated animals, and not wild ones.
However, there isn’t any evidence that Zara’s management tracks their sources closely. Therefore, the potential for animal welfare problems is high.
Does Zara Use Child Labor?
Sadly, using child labor isn’t all that rare. Many companies do it alongside using sweatshops and slave labor.
For instance, many companies source cotton from China, where it is largely picked by prison labor.
However, we don’t know for sure if this company uses child labor. As you’d imagine, the company doesn’t exactly announce that they use children in their factories.
With that said, child labor in one of Zara’s Brazilian factories was reported. However, this factory was technically owned by a third-party, though Zara was still fined for using child labor.
Is Zara Actually Sustainable?
Sadly, Zara doesn’t have many sustainable practices, and doesn’t even have a sustainability page on its website. However, Zara’s parent company Inditex does.
Currently, the company does have a target for sustainability. However, there is no information on whether or not they are meeting these targets or how they will get there.
A lot of this includes information on where they will source their cotton from, as well as other raw materials. However, many of these goals feature vague wording like “more sustainable.”
Despite these goals, the company is still using synthetic materials for the most part. These shed microplastics, which get in the waterways and take hundreds of years to break down.
Plus, some of the fabrics used in Zara clothes are known for leaching toxic chemicals during manufacturing.
The company does have a recycling program, but the website states that some items are put into waste management (aka. thrown away) if they aren’t fit for recycling.
Sadly, many items that are recycled aren’t actually reused. Instead, they end up in the Global South.
Furthermore, the company doesn’t mention anything about toxic dyes, water usage, or other waste. Overproduction seems to make Zara’s production model unsustainable, to say the least.
Does Zara Exploit Workers?
Sadly, Zara has been known to exploit workers quite a bit. This company utilizes third parties for much of their production. However, these companies have been shown to exploit workers.
For instance, many of them use migrant workers and illegal sweatshops, where people are required to work without pay.
Because there isn’t anywhere for these workers to go, they are often stuck in the sweatshops.
Inditex has repeatedly said that they can’t be held responsible for these third party factories.
However, this is common for many larger companies, who hide behind third parties to avoid charges.
For the most part, Zara is not extremely ethical. The company is not very sustainable, as they overproduce their clothes, and in turn produce a lot of waste.
Furthermore, they are prone to utilizing factories with poor labor conditions and slave-like labor. For instance, sometimes, they utilize migrant labor in sweatshops.