Learn how to use the Sust browser extension and website.
Sust provides a web browser extension as well as this website. Here we describe the functionality of each in turn. You can use either without the other; using them both will provide the most value.
1. Sust extension
Fig. 1. Sust extension in operation on asos.com
With the extension running on one of the fashion websites where it works, the following functionality will be available.
1.1 See colour-coded brand ratings
Fig. 1 shows the “Sust buttons” which the extension places on top of products (top-right of the product image, in this case). The user has clicked on one of them, to produce the popup for the corresponding product.
Sust buttons have two halves:
- The upper-right half is coloured according to Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index (FTI) for the brand (0-10). We use a “traffic light” scheme, so that lower (worse) numbers are red; middle numbers are amber; better numbers are green. Grey means that we have no data for that brand.
- The lower-left half is similarly coloured according to the Clean Clothes Campaign’s Living Wages Paid Score (E-A).
1.2 Grey out products from non-transparent brands
Via the extension settings (see 1.7), you can also tell Sust to grey out any products made by a brand whose FTI doesn’t meet a threshold, which you can set.
1.3 Find a similar product second-hand or for rent
In a product’s popup, click on the icon for your favourite second-hand or rental platform such as vinted or eBay (middle of the popup in Fig. 1). Sust will take you straight to a search page on that platform, applying query terms extracted from the product details. You might find you need to edit the query terms to find what you are after.
1.4 Find a platform for repair or upcycling
Product popups also list online platforms for repair or upcycling alongside the second-hand and rental options.
1.5 Go deeper concerning the product or brand
Product popups contain links to “suss” the product or brand – i.e., to find out more (in Fig. 1, “Suss the product”, “Suss the Nike brand”). Those links take you to the corresponding page on sust.earth. There you can contribute or find out more about the product and its brand, and look for new alternatives. See the Sust website documentation below.
1.6 View/contact the brand on social media
You can contact the brand with your comments or questions via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or email. Click on the corresponding icon at the bottom of a product popup (see Fig. 1). Where the brand’s contact handles are known, those will be utilised in the message along with a link to the product.
1.7 Extension settings
Fig. 2. Sust’s global settings, viewed by clicking on the extension icon
To see the global settings for the extension, click on the Sust icon while you are visiting any of the sites where Sust works. You can:
- Turn the extension on or off
- Select which “sustainability” rating to use. Currently, the only rating available is the Clean Clothes Campaign’s Living Wages Paid Score, which relates to the brand rather than the product
- Set whether Sust buttons appear on the left or right of the product (to avoid other symbols which the website might place there)
- Turn on/off the greying-out of products that do not meet your FTI threshold. Although not shown in the figure, when you select “On” for “Grey products”, controls appear for you to choose your FTI threshold and set whether unranked products are to be greyed-out.
2. Sust website
The Sust website is sust.earth. It provides information that is either (1) supplied by independent third parties such as Fashion Revolution and the Clean Clothes Campaign, or (2) supplied by Sust’s users. You can browse all the available information without logging in. However, to contribute you’ll need to log in/register with your email address via the “login” item in the top menu. No other personal data is required.
2.1 Brand / product pages
Fig. 3. Parts of product and brand pages.
Each brand or product page provides some of the same information and functionality available in the extension’s popups – and more, in terms of both additional information and ways to contribute.
2.2 Upvote/downvote products and brands
Products and brands show the total count of votes for them – which may be negative (Fig 3). You can upvote (register your single vote as a positive score) or downvote (register your single vote as a negative score) a brand for sustainability. You will need to add a brief justification for your vote, and specify which main aspect(s) of sustainability leads you to your voting decision.
Similarly, you can upvote/downvote a product for sustainability and quality.
2.3 Find and contribute alternative products
Fig. 4. Adding an alternative product.
Each product page lists any specific alternatives that users have suggested for that specific product. You can also use the Search item in the top menu to search for products by keyword(s), e.g. “cotton, dress”. You can select for the most upvoted products to be shown first.
To contribute an alternative to a specific product, go to its Sust page (typically from an extension popup). You will need (Fig. 4):
- the URL of the product’s webpage where it is sold
- a short account of why you think it is a good alternative
Your suggestion will then appear on that product’s Sust page.
2.4 Create or join a discussion
Fig. 5. Asking a question of a brand.
Each brand or product page has an area near the bottom for discussion. Think of this as an opportunity to find the answer to a specific question about the product or brand, rather than a place where you can post your thoughts in general. For example, “Does anyone know where I can find something like this but made from organic cotton?”, “Where is the factory where this was made, and what is a typical worker’s salary compared to the median for that country?” or “Do you allow the workers in your factories to be unionised?”. Of course, you will typically explain your question somewhat further, beyond that headline.
- Ask a brand a question
- Ask other Sust users a question
- Answer a question
- Comment on a question or answer
- Upvote or downvote a question, answer or comment.
When you choose to ask a question of other Sust users, your question will be posted on the page and you need do nothing else. You will need to supply:
- The title, which should explain the gist of the question
- The body of the question, where you go into greater detail about what your question is and why you are asking it
- Tags that describe the subject. Others can use the Search page to find questions of interest to them through tags such as those, e.g. where someone has asked a question on any product or brand page about “recycled polyester”.
Addressing a question to a brand is somewhat different (Fig. 5). The goal here is to ask a brand a public question, rather than solely in a private communication. First, to help you, the post will be pre-populated with an introduction mentioning anything we know about the brand’s sustainability credentials. Second, although your question will be posted on the page, you can’t assume that the brand will see it. It is your responsibility to send the question to the brand via its contact page or email address.
Others can then “+1” the question on Sust, to show their support. They are responsible for also sending the same question to the brand. This is an opportunity to show collective interest in the answer: Sust shows the total number of +1s.
Upon receipt of the brand’s answer outside the Sust website (e.g. in an email), it is the questioner’s responsibility to post the brand’s reply. Of course, equally, the brand might choose to reply itself.
Everyone has the opportunity of upvoting/downvoting the brand’s response.
Fig. 6. Stitching a product’s metadata.
Brands have metadata, such as where they are headquartered physically in the world, and their social media handles. Sometimes, details are missing or you might suspect them to be wrong. You can “stitch” the metadata, i.e. suggest what the metadata should be. One of our moderators will then check your suggestion and, if accepted, your contribution will benefit the Sust community as a whole.
Similarly, you can stitch product metadata (Fig. 6), including the keywords that describe it. Currently, the Sust extension gathers only limited information about each product by itself. It’s particularly important for us to know who the item is for in terms of age and gender. The materials it is made of, and the country where it was manufactured are also of interest to our users.
Lastly, using the “Stitch” item in the top menu, you will be given some stitching to do at random – either a brand with missing metadata, or a word we found in a product, for you to classify.
When you contribute to Sust, e.g. by stitching or suggesting an alternative, we award you points. You can see how many points you have gained via your profile page, which is accessible from the top menu.
When someone votes for a product, brand or post, we add their points as a weighting. In the near term, you might want to consider the votes of people who contribute a lot to Sust as counting for more than those who have contributed less.
In the longer term, we plan to award badges for demonstrable expertise.
3. Questions or comments
If you have a question or a comment on how to improve this user guide. Please contact us.