Advertisement

The Influence of Eco-Labelling on Ethical Consumption of Organic Cotton

  • Joy BucklowEmail author
  • Patsy Perry
  • Elaine Ritch
Chapter

Abstract

Organisations are increasingly keen to communicate their efforts to address sustainability and encourage consumers to adopt sustainable behaviours. Fashion retailers have begun to acknowledge and address growing consumer concerns about the negative impact of fibre, fabric and garment production on the environment and workers. This chapter considers how sustainability, in terms of the concept of organic cotton, is communicated to and interpreted by fashion consumers as they evaluate eco-labelling during the purchase decision-making process. It begins with an overview of organic cotton farming methods, followed by a critical analysis of the literature on ethical and conscious consumption, with specific consideration of the barriers and drivers of organic cotton consumption, and how eco-labels affect consumer perceptions of environmental issues. Finally, a summary of the current presence and marketing of organic cotton in the UK fashion market is provided.

Keywords

Organic cotton Ethical consumption Eco-labelling Sustainability 

References

  1. Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1980). Understanding Attitudes and Predicting Social Behaviour. Prentice Hall: London.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, K., Valenzuela, E., & Jackson, L. A. (2008). Recent and prospective adoption of genetically modified cotton: A global computable general equilibrium analysis of economic impacts. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 56(2): 265–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Armstrong, C. M., Niinimäki, K., Kujala, S., Karell, E., & Lang, C. (2015). Sustainable product-service systems for clothing: Exploring consumer perceptions of consumption alternatives in Finland. Journal of Cleaner Production, 97: 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Auger, P., & Devinney, T. M. (2007). Do what consumers say matter? The misalignment of preferences with unconstrained ethical intentions. Journal of Business Ethics, 76(4): 361–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Babu, K. M., Selvadass, M., & Somashekar, R. (2013). Characterization of the conventional and organic cotton fibres. Journal of the Textile Institute, 104(10): 1101–1112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Beyond Pesticides. (2007). What is integrated pest management? Retrieved from http://www.beyondpesticides.org/resources/safety-source-on-pesticide-providers/what-is-integrated-pest-management [accessed 17/10/16].
  7. Bodur, H. O., Gao, T., & Grohmann, B. (2014). The ethical attribute stigma: Understanding when ethical attributes improve consumer responses to product evaluations. Journal of Business Ethics, 122: 167–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Boulstridge, E., & Carrigan, M. (2000). Do consumers really care about corporate responsibility? Highlighting the attitude-behaviour gap. Journal of Communication Management, 4(4): 355–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bratt, C., Hallstedt, S., Broman, G., Robèrt, K.-H., & Oldmark, J. (2011). Assessment of eco-labelling criteria development from a strategic sustainability perspective. Journal of Cleaner Production, 19(14): 1631–1638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bray, J., Johns, N., & Kilburn, D. (2011). An exploratory study into the factors impeding ethical consumption. Journal of Business Ethics, 98: 597–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brécard, D. (2014). Consumer confusion over the profusion of eco-labels: Lessons from a double differentiation model. Resource and Energy Economics, 37: 64–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brennan, R., & Croft, R. (2013). Eco labels in Germany. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 12(4): 341–359.Google Scholar
  13. Bruce, C., & Laroiya, A. (2007). The production of eco-labels. Environmental and Resource Economics, 36: 275–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Buckley, R. (2013). Sustainability: Three reasons for eco label failure. Nature, 500: 151.Google Scholar
  15. C&A. (2015). Making organic cotton mainstream. Retrieved from http://www.c-and-a.com/uk/en/corporate/company/newsroom/featured-stories/2015/making-organic-cotton-mainstream/ [accessed 17/10/16].
  16. C&A. (n.d.). Bio Cotton – taking organic mainstream. Retrieved from http://www.c-and-a.com/uk/en/corporate/company/sustainability-old/products/bio-cotton/ [accessed 17/10/16].
  17. Carrington, M. J., Neville, B. A., & Whitwell, G. J. (2010). Why ethical consumers don’t walk their talk: Towards a framework for understanding the gap between the ethical purchase intentions and actual buying behaviour of ethically minded consumers. Journal of Business Ethics, 97(1): 139–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Casadesus-Masanell, R., Crooke, M., Reinhardt, F., & Vasishth, V. (2009). Households’ willingness to pay for “green” goods: Evidence from Patagonia’s Introduction of organic cotton sportswear. Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, 18(1): 203–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cotton Australia. (2013). BMP cotton best management practices. Retrieved from http://www.bmpcotton.com.au/ [accessed 17/10/16].
  20. Cowe, R., & Williams, S. (2000). Who are the Ethical Consumers? The Co-operative Bank: London.Google Scholar
  21. Crane, A., & Matten, D. (2003). Business Ethics. Oxford University Press: New York.Google Scholar
  22. D’Souza, C. (2004). Ecolabel programmes: A stakeholder (consumer) perspective. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 9(3): 179–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. D’Souza, C., Taghian, M., & Lamb, P. (2011). An empirical study on the influence of environmental labels on consumers. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 11(2): 162–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Davies, I. A., Lee, Z., & Ahonkhai, I. (2012). Do consumers care about ethical-luxury? Journal of Business Ethics, 106(1): 37–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Delmas, M. A., & Grant, L. E. (2014). Eco-labeling strategies and price-premium: The wine industry puzzle. Business & Society, 53(1): 6–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ecolabel Index. (2015). All ecolabels. Retrieved from http://www.ecolabelindex.com/ecolabels/ [accessed 17/10/16]
  27. Edwards, A. (2005). The Sustainability Revolution: Portrait of a Paradigm Shift. New Publishers Canada: British Columbia.Google Scholar
  28. Ellen, P. S., Wiener, J. L., & Cobb-walgren, C. (1991). The role of Perceived Consumer Effectiveness in Motivating Environmnetally Conscious Behaviours. American Marketing Association, 10(2), 102–117.Google Scholar
  29. Farrington, D. W., Lunt, J., Davies, S., & Blackburn, R. S. (2005). Poly(lactic acid) fibers, in R. S. Blackburn (Ed.) Biodegradable and Sustainable Fibres, Chapter 6: 191–220, Woodhead Publishing: Cambridge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (1975). Beliefs, Attitude, Intention and Behaviour: An Introduction to Theory and Research. Addison-Wesley: London.Google Scholar
  31. Fletcher, K. (2008). Sustainable Fashion and Textiles. Routledge: London.Google Scholar
  32. Forster, D., Andres, C., Verma, R., Zundel, C., Messmer, M. M., & Mäder, P. (2013). Yield and economic performance of organic and conventional cotton-based farming systems – results from a field trial in India. PloS One, 8(12), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Freestone, O. M., & McGoldrick, P. J. (2008). Motivations of the ethical consumer. Journal of Business Ethics, 79: 445–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Gam, H. J., Cao, H., Farr, C., & Kang, M. (2010). Quest for the eco-apparel market: A study of mothers’ willingness to purchase organic cotton clothing for their children. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 34: 648–656.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Global Ecolabelling Network [GEN]. (2015). Global ecolabelling network [GEN] – home. Retrieved from http://www.globalecolabelling.net/ [accessed 17/10/16].
  36. GMO Compass. (2014). Genetically modified cotton: Global area under cultivation. Retrieved from http://www.gmo-compass.org/eng/agri_biotechnology/gmo_planting/343.genetically_modified_cotton_global_area_under_cultivation.html [accessed 17/10/16].
  37. Gopalakrishnan, D., & Nithiyakumar, M. (2008). Organic cotton: An overview. Asian Textile Journal, 17(1): 35–42.Google Scholar
  38. Goworek, H. (2011). Social and environmental sustainability in the clothing industry: a case study of a fair trade retailer. Social Responsibility Journal, 7(1), 74–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Goworek, H., Fisher, T., Cooper, T., Woodward, S., & Hiller, A. (2012). The sustainable clothing market: An evaluation of potential strategies for UK retailers. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 40(12): 935–955.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Grankvist, G., & Biel, A. (2007). Predictors of purchase of eco-labelled food products: A panel study. Food Quality and Preference, 18, 701–708.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Grose, L. (2009). Sustainable cotton production, in R. S. Blackburn (Ed.) Sustainable Textiles: Life Cycle and Environmental Impact, Chapter 2: 33–62, Woodhead Publishing: Cambridge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Grunert, K. G., Hieke, S., & Wills, J. (2014). Sustainability labels on food products: Consumer motivation, understanding and use. Food Policy, 44: 177–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ha-Brookshire, J. E., & Norum, P. S. (2011). Willingness to pay for socially responsible products: Case of cotton apparel. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 28: 344–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Harbaugh, R., Maxwell, J. W., & Roussillon, B. (2011). Label confusion: The Groucho effect of uncertain standards. Management Science, 57(9): 1512–1527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Hiller Connell, K. Y. (2010). Internal and external barriers to eco-conscious apparel acquisition. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 34(3): 279–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Hustvedt, G., & Bernard, J. C. (2008). Consumer willingness to pay for sustainable apparel: The influence of labelling for fibre origin and production methods. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 32(5): 491–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Hustvedt, G., & Dickson, M. A. (2009). Consumer likelihood of purchasing organic cotton apparel: Influence of attitudes and self-identity. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 13(1): 49–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Illge, L., & Preuss, L. (2012). Strategies for sustainable cotton: Comparing niche with mainstream markets. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 19: 102–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Joergens, C. (2006). Ethical fashion: Myth or future trend?. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 10(3): 360–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Jones, A. R. W., & Williams, G. (2012). Perceptions of fair trade labelling and certification. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 16(2): 246–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Joy, A., Sherry Jr., J. F., Venkatesh, A., Wang, F., & Chan, R. (2012). Fast fashion, sustainability and the ethical appeal of luxury brands. Fashion Theory, 18(3): 273–296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Kraft, F. B., & Goodell, P. W. (1993). Identifying the health conscious consumer. Journal of Health Care Marketing, 12(3): 18–26.Google Scholar
  53. Kuepper, G., & Gegner, L. (2004). Organic crop production overview. ATTRA. Retrieved from https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=66 [accessed 17/10/16].
  54. LeBoeuf, R. A., & Simmons, J. P. (2010). Branding alters attitude functions and reduces the advantage of function-matching persuasive appeals. Journal of Marketing Research, 47(2): 348–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Lee, M., & Sevier, L. (2008). The A-Z of eco fashion. Retrieved from http://www.theecologist.org/green_green_living/clothing/269326/the_a_z_of_eco_fashion.html [accessed 17/10/16].
  56. Lin, Y.-C., & Chang, C. A. (2012). Double standard: The role of environmental consciousness in green product usage. Journal of Marketing, 76(5): 125–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Luchs, M. G., Naylor, R. W., Irwin, J. R., & Raghunathan, R. (2010). The sustainability liability: Potential negative effects of ethicality on product preference. Journal of Marketing, 74(5): 18–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Mälkönen, V. (2005). Harmonization versus mutual recognition of national eco-labels. Discussion papers /Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economics, University of Helsinki; 612.Google Scholar
  59. McDonald, S., Oates, C., Thyne, M., Alevizou, P., & McMorland, L.-A. (2009). Comparing sustainable consumption patterns across product sectors. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 33(2): 137–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Moisander, J. (2007). Motivational complexity of green consumerism. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 31: 404–409. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1470-6431.2007.00586.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Moore, S. B., & Wentz, M. (2009). Eco-labeling for textiles and apparel, in R. S. Blackburn (Ed.) Sustainable Textiles: Life Cycle and Environmental Impact, Chapter 10: 214–230, Woodhead Publishing: Cambridge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Moulds, J. (2015). Can big brands catch up on sustainable fashion? Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/sustainable-fashion-blog/2015/mar/24/composting-clothes-sustainable-materials-biodegradable [accessed 17/10/16].
  63. Muldoon, A. (2006). Where the green is: Examining the paradox of environmentally conscious consumption. Electronic Green Journal, 1(23), 1–18.Google Scholar
  64. Myers, D., & Stolton, S. (Eds.) (1999). Organic Cotton: From Field to Final Product. ITDG Publishing: London.Google Scholar
  65. Newholm, T., & Shaw, D. (2007). Studying the ethical consumer: A review of the research. Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 6: 253–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Niinimäki, K. (2010). Eco-clothing, consumer identity and ideology. Sustainable Development, 18(3): 150–162. doi:  10.1002/sd.455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Ochoa, L. M. C. (2009). Will “eco-fashion” take off? A survey of potential customers of organic cotton clothes in London. AD-minister.Google Scholar
  68. Orford, S., Delaney, S., & Timmis, J. (2007). The genetic modification of cotton. Cotton: Science and Technology, 1: 103–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Paço, A. M. F., & Raposo, M. L. B. (2010). Green consumer market segmentation: Empirical findings from Portugal. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 34(4): 429–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Patagonia. (n.d.). Organic cotton. Retrieved from: http://www.patagonia.com/organic-cotton.html [accessed 17/10/2016].
  71. Rahbar, E., & Wahid, N. A. (2010). Ethno-cultural differences and consumer understanding of eco-labels: An empirical study in Malaysia. Journal of Sustainable Development, 3(3): 255–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Reinhold, E. (2014) Why the time is right to go organic. Retrieved from http://source.ethicalfashionforum.com/article/why-the-time-is-right-to-go-organic [accessed 17/10/16].
  73. Riello, G. (2013). Cotton: The Fabric that Made the Modern World. Cambridge University Press: New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Ritch, E. L. (2015). Consumers interpreting sustainability: Moving beyond food to fashion. International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management, 43(12): 1162–1181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Roberts, J. (1996). Green consumer in the 1990s: Profile and Implications for advertising. Journal of Business Research, 36(3): 217–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Roberts, J. A., & Bacon, D. R. (1997). Exploring the subtle relationships between environmental concern and ecologically conscious consumer behavior. Journal of Business Research, 40(1): 79–89. http://doi.org/10.1016/S0148-2963(96)00280-9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Rustin, S. (2014). Cotton trade: Where does your T-shirt grow?. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/aug/09/cotton-growers-benin-organic-pesticides [accessed 17/10/16].
  78. Scheer, D., Rubik, F., & Gold, S. (2008). Enabling developing countries to Seize eco-label opportunities.Google Scholar
  79. Shaw, D., Hogg, G., Wilson, E., Shiu, E., & Hassan, L. (2006). Fashion victim: The impact of fair trade concerns on clothing choice. Journal of Strategic Marketing, 4(14): 427–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Shaw, D., Shiu, E., Hassan, L., Bekin, C., & Hogg, G. (2007). Intending to be ethical: An examination of consumer choice in sweatshop avoidance. Advances in Consumer Research, 34: 31–38.Google Scholar
  81. Sherburne, A. (2009). Achieving sustainable textiles: A designer’s perspective, in R. S. Blackburn (Ed.) Sustainable Textiles: Life Cyle and Environmental Impact, Chapter 1: 3–32, Woodhead Publishing: Cambridge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Smestad, L. (2009). The sweatshop, child labor, and exploitation issues in the garment industry. Fashion Practice, 1(2): 147–162.Google Scholar
  83. Soil Association. (2015). Soil association: Organic cotton. Retrieved from http://www.soilassociation.org/whatisorganic/organictextiles/organiccotton [accessed 17/10/16].
  84. Spruyt, A., Hermans, D., De Houwer, J., Vandekerckhove, J., & Eelen, P. (2007). On the predictive validity of indirect attitude measures: Prediction of consumer choice behavior on the basis of affective priming in the picture-picture naming task. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 43(4): 599–610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Swezey, S. L., Goldman, P., Bryer, J., & Nieto, D. (2007). Six-year comparison between organic, IPM and conventional cotton production systems in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, California. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 22(1): 30–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. Szmigin, I., Carrigan, M., & McEachern, M. G. (2009). The conscious consumer: Taking a flexible approach to ethical behaviour. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 33(2): 224–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Taufique, K. M. R., Siwar, C., Talib, B., Sarah, F. H., & Chamhuri, N. (2014). Synthesis of constructs for modeling consumers’ understanding and perception of eco-labels. Sustainability, 6: 2176–2200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Textile Exchange. (2016). Organic Cotton Market Report 2016.Google Scholar
  89. Textiles Intelligence. (2012). Global Apparel Markets.Google Scholar
  90. Textiles Intelligence. (2014). Global apparel markets.Google Scholar
  91. Thøgersen, J. (2000). Psychological determinants of paying attention to eco-labels in purchase decisions: Model development and multinational validation. Journal of Consumer Policy, 23: 285–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. Thomas, S. (2008). From “green blur” to ecofashion: Fashioning an eco-lexicon. Fashion Theory – Journal of Dress, Body and Culture, 12(4): 525–540. http://doi.org/10.2752/175174108X346977.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. Tsarenko, Y., Ferraro, C., Sands, S., & McLeod, C. (2013). Environmentally conscious consumption: The role of retailers and peers as external influences. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 20(3): 302–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Tu, C., Ristaino, J. B., & Hu, S. (2006). Soil microbial biomass and activity in organic tomato farming systems: Effects of organic inputs and straw mulching. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 38(2): 247–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. Turley, D., Horne, M., Blackburn, R. E. S., Laybourn, S., Copeland, J., & Harwood, J. (2010). The Role and Business Case for Existing and Emerging Fibres in Sustainable Clothing. DEFRA: London.Google Scholar
  96. Tzilivakis, J., Green, A., Warner, D., McGeevor, K., & Lewis, K. (2012). A framework for practical and effective eco‐labelling of food products. Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 3(1): 50–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] National Organic Program [NOP]. (2015). Organic regulations |agricultural marketing service.Google Scholar
  98. Van Amstel, M., De Brauw, C., Driessen, P., & Glasbergen, P. (2007). The reliability of product-specific eco-labels as an agrobiodiversity management instrument. Biodiversity and Conservation, 16: 4109–4129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  99. Vitell, S. J. (2003). Consumer ethics research: Review, synthesis and suggestions for the future. Journal of Business Ethics, 43(1): 33–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  100. Wakelyn, P. J., & Chaudhry, M. R. (2009). Organic Cotton: Production Practices and Post-Harvest Considerations. Sustainable Textiles, Chapter 11: 231–301, Woodhead Publishing: Cambridge.Google Scholar
  101. Westervelt, A. (2015). Sweat it out: Could your sportswear be toxic? Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jun/02/toxics-apparel-nike-adidas-reach [accessed 17/10/16].
  102. Williamson, S., Ferrigno, S., & Vodouhe, S. D. (2005). Needs-based decision-making for cotton problems in Africa: A response to Hillocks. International Journal of Pest Management, 51(4): 219–224. doi:  10.1080/09670870500384033.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  103. World Commission on Environment and Development [WCED]. (1987). WCED Our Common Future (The Brundtland Report).Google Scholar
  104. Youssef, A. B., & Abderrazak, C. (2009). Multiplicity of eco-labels, competition and the environment. Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, 7(2): 1–22. doi:  10.2202/1542-0485.1271.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MaterialsThe University of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.School for Business & SocietyGlasgow Caledonian UniversityGlasgowScotland

Personalised recommendations