The environmentally conscious consumer searches for “green” products. It’s a sentiment growing within the clothing industry after being a niche market for decades.
Shopping for ethically made and sustainable clothing can feel like navigating a maze of ‘green’, ‘eco’ and ‘ethical’ claims. As many of you know, marketing isn’t always reality.
All natural fabrics are not eco-friendly. Take for example the Cotton fabric. Is it natural? Yes, is it sustainable? No. to achieve this fabric Natural fabric, the land is de-forested to plant the cotton trees. 3250 liters – How much water it takes to produce the cotton needed for one t-shirt – that is almost three years’ worth of drinking water! (according to the WWF).
Man-made fibres can also be Eco-friendly Fibers
Natural fibers are sourced from plants, animals or insects, but man made fibers are either made from synthetic materials or made from regenerated fibers.
Now regenerated fibers are also made from natural resources and transformed into fibers through a chemical based process.
The protein origin regenerated fibers give us fabrics of corn, soy, milk and peanut. The cellulose orgin regenerated fibers produce fabrics from bamboo, rayon, lyocell, tenecel and viscose etc.
Everyone can claim that they are sustainable. How do we trust them. That’s where the third party certification comes into place. They certifications can help you to judge the sustainability credentials of your favourite fashion labels. They can also help you in your advocacy efforts. You can suggest that your favourite labels start to use textiles that are certified under these systems.
Not all labels will have certification. Many of systems can be too costly for small-scale labels. But even if the final product is not certified, you may find that they purchase some of their textiles from certified textiles mills. If a label is claiming sustainability credentials and they don’t refer to these certifications, it is worth asking them for more information about the sources of their fabrics before you trust their claims completely.
When looking for sustainable textiles, it is helpful to have external textile certifications that you can trust. There is a range of certification systems which you can rely upon to trust the sustainability of the textiles that you come across. These can help you in your search for sustainable garments.
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
The GOTS standard ensures a high level of protection for the environment and for the people who produce the textiles- from the raw crop through to the textile mills. GOTS Organic certification requires that the final textile (or final product) contain at least 95% organic material, and the GOTS Made With Organic requires at least 70% organic material. GOTS requires that the raw product be grown without the use of pesticides and insecticides. This system also requires that chemicals used in processing of fibers are low impact and renewable, and this includes dyes, and any unnecessary chemical processing must be removed from the manufacturing process. Strict requirements are in place for any wastewater that is released, or impacts on air quality. Final products must meet strict requirements for toxicity, and toxic chemicals, such as formaldehyde and azo dyes are banned in the processing system. The system also requires that workers throughout the production process are not exposed to harm and have safe working conditions, that there is no child or forced labour, that workers are free from discrimination, and they have freedom of association.
OEKO-TEX® Standard 100
OEKO-TEX Standard 100 is a certification system which testing products throughout the manufacturing process of the presence of harmful and banned chemicals. This includes extensive product use testing to determine whether additional chemicals might be released or absorbed by the wearer in particular circumstances, such as during sweating and exercise. The OEKO-TEX certification labelling that you will see on final consumer products are STeP (Sustainable Textile Production) and Made in Green.
Biopreferred is a USDA certification system designed to encourage consumers and manufacturers to choose biodegradable bio-based products and materials and move away from reliance on non-renewable petrochemicals. This certification system applies to a whole range of consumer and industrial products, such fertilizers, bioplastics, cleaning products, textiles, and inks. Products certified under this system are made with biobased content (derived from renewable plant resources) and are biodegradable.
The bluesign certification system takes an Input Stream Management approach to assessing the sustainability of textiles. Rather than simply assessing the final product for harmful chemicals, this certification system focuses on finding the most sustainable inputs with which to manufacture, and then tracks the sustainability through to finished product. The five principles upon which the sustainability of a textile is assessed are: resource productivity; consumer safety; water emissions; air emissions; and occupational health and safety.
Programme for the Endorsement of Forestry Certification (PEFC)
PEFC is the world’s largest forestry certification system, which assesses and endorses the range of national forestry certification system. A PEFC certification ensures that the timber products and woodstock have come from sustainably managed forests. With an increasing amount of textiles being made from woodstock- including rayon, lyocell, and modal- it is increasingly important to ensure that garments made from woodstock textiles have been certified. Increasing demand for these fabrics is driving increasing rainforest deforestation in countries such as Indonesia.
Ecological Plant Fiber Certification (EPFC)
EPFC standard also is a small brother of GOTS, made for Asian countries. The EPFC also tests the processing of all raw materials from farming to final product stage. The fabric is a result of high standard scrutiny and ensures that all the parts of your supply chain are in accordance with the Standard protocol. The EPFC is an independent organization that reviews the manufacturing process of a fabric and has independently determined that the final product complies with all standards for quality, safety and production. It covers material reviews, testing and facility inspections.
These are just a few of the certifications that exist. They certifications can help you to judge the sustainability credentials of your favourite fashion labels. They can also help you in your advocacy efforts. You can suggest that your favourite labels start to use textiles that are certified under these systems.
The House of Akshar has obtained the EPFC certificate of compliance. The details of which are mentioned below
The EPFC no. 475943-488322
Issued on 15th September 2018