Why Make Products in China?

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Why Make Products in China?

China dish 600

Our customers expect a lot from us, but we expect even more from ourselves. Our goal is always to “make things better.” It’s an all-encompassing, high-level brand ethos that challenges us to do our best every day in all things we do. It guides how we make our products, how we source raw materials, who we choose as partners, how we serve our customers, and much, much more. It’s everything — and it’s no easy task.

In our efforts to reach our comprehensive, unapologetically higher standards, we’ve learned we need to explore within and beyond our borders to find best-in-class partners. Whether it’s finding the best ingredients or the best manufacturing facilities, you just never know where you’re going to find partners who not only have the capabilities to meticulously craft the exceptional products we create, but also share our vision of creating a better world. As many of you have noticed, we’ve selected to make some of our products in China and that’s raised a few eyebrows and yellow flags with some of our customers.

With a history of product recalls, less than optimal working conditions, and deleterious environmental impacts, China’s overall reputation in the eyes of global consumers has been less than stellar. So, why would The Honest Company decide to source from China (with collaborators) or directly make our high standard, high quality Honest goods there? It’s a question we’ve gotten a few times — we’d ask, too! The decision-making process has been an eye-opening journey of deep investigation, relationship building, and weighing pros and cons, and today we’d like to share what we’ve learned and why we chose to make some of our products, like our Honest Wipes, in China.

1. Infrastructure & Efficiency

China has been a global hub for manufacturing for decades, and they’ve gotten really good at it. Their ability to create the infrastructure and systems to support and adapt to manufacturing needs is pretty much bar none. From material sourcing to shipping logistics, everything functions like a well-oiled machine creating unparalleled efficiency. One vital piece of this machine is the ability to quickly create injection molds and manufacturing lines for hard goods. It may make your eyes glaze over, but the engineers and contractors we found are like magicians, taking days or weeks as opposed to months or years to help us turn our vision into reality. That means we can test prototypes more efficiently and be nimble to customer requests for design refinements and new products.

2. Cost

For many of our hard goods (like our stroller or diaper caddy), if we were to make them domestically (which is always our primary objective!), we have found the end result would be far too expensive (for Honest and in turn our customers). And, at the end of the day, we are committed to ensuring that our eco-friendly, effective, natural products aren’t prohibitively expensive to you. We want to hit a level of accessibility that ALL families can afford, as we truly believe every baby deserves the best we can create for them. In the big picture, lower cost on some of these items means greater access, and we get to achieve our mission of education, helping more children and families, and providing more public benefit overall.

3. Quality

Even though we’re conscientious about cost (who isn’t?), it’s extremely important to note that we NEVER compromise on quality. We ask A LOT from our partners. They, like us, have to go the extra mile when it comes to safety, sustainability, labor practices, and more (read our Suppliers Code of Conduct). Our team on the ground in China is very hands-on to ensure every part of the process lives up to Honest standards.

A few examples:

  • They must source top quality raw materials from farms and partners close to the factories to minimize transportation and carbon footprint.

  • They must have on-site water purification methods to ensure the highest purity and filtration.

  • They must personally have a program for sustainability — best practices, goals, and processes.

  • They must recycle all scraps and waste materials.

  • They must meet all international good manufacturing standards, like GMPc, cGMP, ISO 9001: 2008, and exceed all fair labor practices.

Also, they have a comprehensive audit system in place (100% available to Honest and our third party audit teams) so they can continually monitor quality control protocols, fair labor practices, health and safety, compensation and work hours, environmental impacts, and more.

Even though we wouldn’t trust any old manufacturer in China, most have had to step it up in terms of quality to attract customers because Chinese labor costs are no longer the lowest in the world. And a small handful exceed all other global competition (like the ones we found). It’s a simple fact that just because there’s a stereotype, it doesn’t mean it’s universally applicable. All Chinese manufacturers are not created equal — just as all U.S., European, North and South American, and Asian manufacturers are not.

Ultimately, we realize there is more work to be done. The final piece of the puzzle we’re focused on is fulfilling our own commitment to sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint of importing goods that have to travel longer distances. To bridge that gap, we’re hard at work currently reviewing options for fully offsetting our carbon impact. Our goal is to have something in place in the next couple of months.

At The Honest Company, we never claim to be perfect, but we’re always trying to do things better. We don’t make any of these decisions lightly — our responsibility to you, your children, our children, and our children’s children is at the heart of everything we do and we take that very seriously. Hopefully, everything we’ve outlined here demonstrates how comprehensive our decision-making process is and how deliberate we are about every little detail.

Thank you for caring!

Here is the list of Honest products made in China:

  • Wipes
  • Dish Brush
  • Dish Towels
  • Suds Up
  • Diaper Caddy
  • Beco Baby Carrier