“Fashion can be a universal player in protecting the planet. Fashion is certainly a huge part of everybody’s lives. You wear it every day and for some people it’s a status symbol, or a statement of how much they have spent on clothes, or it’s a means of expressing their identity and who they are.”- Pharrell Williams
Organic Fiber Clothing Certification and Safe Textiles Certification
Organic cotton is grown without the use of chemicals fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides. It helps to improve the quality of land, prevent water contamination and conserve biodiversity. Organic cotton cultivation has a low impact on the environment. Organic production systems maintain soil fertility, cut the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture system. Third-party certification organizations verify that organic producers use only methods and materials allowed in organic production. Federal regulations prohibit the use of genetically engineered seed for organic farming. All cotton sold as organic in the United States must meet strict federal regulations covering how the cotton is grown.
U.S. organic cotton production continues to increase, encouraged by consumer and corporate demand, price premiums, and regulatory shifts that facilitate clear labeling for organic cotton products
There is no doubt that by buying organic cotton clothing you are not only saving your skin from toxic chemicals present in the conventional cotton production, textiles and clothing manufacture, but also contributing in a significant way to save planet earth from the impact of widely used toxic fertilizers, pesticides, harmful dyes and chemicals for finishing fabric for making clothes.
It is important though to looks for certification marks and symbols on the clothing tags and packaging to make sure organic cotton is certified and genuinely produced. Third party certification gives us unbiased and substantive information about the environmental performance of a fabric. Each certification has a different meaning. Look for individual certification text to identify what it means.
If a garment you buy says it is made with organic cotton it means the fiber used is organic but chances are that the chemicals used in processing may contain some of the highly toxic chemicals usually found in solvents, dyestuffs, and finishes. Further while processing the product, excess chemicals were released in the effluent and are now circulating in our groundwater. It can be still made in a sweat shop where there are no fair wages and safe working conditions. So in addition to organic cotton, look for other certification which certifies that product is made with low impact dyes and chemicals.
There are various well known organizations around the world involved in organic fiber and safer textiles certifications. Look out for below symbols (remember each symbol has unique meaning):
United States Department of Agriculture, National Organic Programs a regulatory program housed within the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. They are responsible for developing national standards for organically-produced agricultural products. These standards assure consumers that products with the USDA organic seal meet consistent, uniform standards. This means only fiber is organic. Look for below symbols for post fiber certifications. Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) may be sold as ‘organic’ in the U.S. though they may not refer to NOP certification or carry the USDA organic seal.
OneCert: This organization provides organic certification worldwide with certification and inspection programs including the US National Organic Program (NOP), European Organic Regulations, Quebec Organic Standards (CAQ), Japan Agricultural Standards (JAS), IFOAM, and Bio Suisse. Services include organic certification, organic inspection, export certificates, transaction certificates, on-line record keeping, answers to certification questions, and presentations of organic topics.
|OE100 symbol: Cotton in the product grown to organic standards. Product has been tracked and traced along the supply chain by an independent, third party. Contains 100% certified organic cotton fiber, but hasn’t necessarily been processed to organic standards.|
|OE blended symbol: Product contains a minimum 5% of organic cotton fiber.|
Peterson Control Union: Control Union is a global one-stop-shop for a range of services in all aspects of the logistics chain of many commodities, including certification programs. It certifies to the standards of The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), and the Organic Exchange.
The Institute for Marketcology (IMO): IMO is one of the first and most renowned international agencies for inspection, certification and quality assurance of eco-friendly products. IMO offers certification for organic production and handling according to the EU Regulation.
Control Union is a global one-stop-shop for a range of certification programs, including organic fibers. It certifies to the standards of AB logo, Bio Suisse, Canada Organic Regime, EU organic, Japanese, Agricultural Standards, Naturland inspections, NPOP, Polish EU organic, USDS/NOP.
Oeko Tex (www.oeko-tex.com): This is important mark to look for safe textiles production. Founded to provide an objective and reliable product label for consumers and a uniform safety standard for the assessment of harmful substances in fabrics. Its aim is to ensure products are free of harmful substances. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 excludes harmful substances or limits their use. The following parameters form part of the Oeko-Tex list of criteria and is specifically banned AZO dyes, carcinogenic and allergy-inducing dyes, formaldehyde, pesticides, chlorinated phenols, chloro-organic benzenes and toluenes, extractable heavy metals, phthalates in baby articles, Organotin compounds (TBT and DBT), emissions of volatile components.