Glossary of Green Goodness
Are you confused by all the lingo in sustainable textiles world? Not sure where to start to make your life or wardrobe a wee bit more eco-friendly? You’re definitely not alone there..
This time last year I asked myself two Big questions..As a creative yogi do I really want to carry on making products (ie more stuff) in the same way that I am?
Does my wellness contribute to the planets illness?
Having a deep passion for the environment, for all things textiles and making beautiful pieces that had quality and longevity to them, naturally shelf life and sustainability questions arise. So I started extensive research on textiles, dying methods, factories and their production methods, certification, green-washing and learnt a whole lot along the way.. So this much I know from my own journey moving into sustainable practices. The list is by no means exhaustive, and likely be added to as tech evolves and humanity catches up!
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.
The aim of the standard is to define world-wide recognized requirements that ensure organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labelling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.
Textile processors and manufacturers are enabled to export their organic fabrics and garments with one certification accepted in all major markets.
My own denim yarn uses is GOTs certified and made into a cloth by Genesh in India
This gives small-scale cotton farmers in developing countries the power to improve their livelihoods by ensuring they receive a fair and stable price for their cotton and the additional Fairtrade premium that is used by the farmers for community development projects.
Here’s what my own supplier https://www.organiccotton.biz/store/ has to say about Fairtrade when asked;
"Are your fabrics certified?
All our cotton yarn is certified by GOTS as being organic.
Our muslin fabric is also Soil Associationcertified. Soil Association is a UK body allied to GOTS. Bamboo silk is from yarn that is Oeko-tex certified and produced in a closed loop system. Tencel is also ethically produced under licence and is Oeko-tex certified.
Please ask if you would like to see current certificates - we really don't mind and believe that we should all be aware of the possibility that people may jump on the 'organic' bandwagon without being true to its ideals.
We ourselves are not certified by GOTS or FTF (Fairtrade foundation). We are quite small and the way we work makes it impossible to work with large organisations who naturally have large overheads and fees to cover the great work they do. So for example if we wanted GOTS certification for our work in Kerala, they would have to send someone to inspect each of the powerloom workers that Genesh works with. They would need a paper trail for the yarn from source to weaver to dying to weaving to shipping and they would also need to audit our work in the UK. This is exactley what they need to do, but not feasable when you are working with two hundred different fabrics made by many different weavers. We do insist on GOTS certificates to cover all the yarn we use in Kerala
Mill fabric is different. The cotton mills we work with are all inspected and certified by GOTS.
My own Fairtrade... it's complicated. We don't hold a licence, we are too small, so we don't use the logo unless we are selling fabric imported by a third party who do hold a licence. Fairtrade logo covers the cotton used. It does not cover the actual fabric, but .... all our fabric is 'fairtrade' or fair trade - not 'Fairtrade'.... that is why we exist -- to trade fairly.
OEKO-TEX is basically that the item is free from any harmful chemicals and substances.
Oeko-Tex® is a worldwide association of independent institutes for product safety and sustainable production in the textile industry. The standard 100 by Oeko-Tex® is used for testing and certification of textile products.
The criteria are often more strict than judicial standards, and change consecutively according to new results within medical science. Everything is tested. Zippers, buttons, sewing threads, labels, hang tags.. the list goes on!
The certification is both expensive and demanding. As the certification is renewed annually, it requires control in every aspect of the process. Suppliers must cooperate with subcontractors with Oeko-Tex 100 Class 1 products.
A certification is valid for 12 months, and the International Oeko-Tex Association control tests each year at least 25% of all issued certificates by performing sampling. Oeko-Tex® also controls the product once a year in collaboration with the product owner to make sure it still fulfills the requirements.
Ethically sourced is when goods are produced and purchased in ways that demonstrates respect for the people who produce them as well as for the environment. Goods should be purchased through transparent relationships that are built on trust and openness, producers should be compensated at a level that reflects the value of their hard work and that provides a living income for themselves and their families. It also covers a range of issues such as working conditions, exploitation, fair trade and sustainable production.
Organic clothing is made from materials raised in or grown in compliance with organic agricultural standards. Organic clothing may be composed of fibres of Cotton, Jute, Silk, Ramie, or Wool. ... A more general term is organic textiles, which includes both apparel and home textiles.
Organic fibres are grown without the use of synthetic fertilisers or potentially toxic pesticides. By building soil fertility, organic farmers help lock CO2 into the soil, helping mitigate climate change. It also avoids the use of the toxic pesticides that, in non-organic systems, are responsible for poisoning wildlife and rivers, as well as killing an estimated 16,000 people each year.
The alternative to fast fashion and part of what has been called the '‘slow movement’ advocates for principles similar to the principles of slow food, such as good quality, clean environment, and fairness for both consumers and producers.
Exciting Innovations and three amazing new textiles to look out for;
Mushroom leather is organic, gluten and chemical free and has a marbled, velvety surface. It is only visually similar to animal leather but is a vegan product with highly absorbing, antibacterial and antiseptic properties. The high amount of air gives the mushroom leather its lightness and at the same time, has an insulating effect.
The result of years of work was the development of a new type of natural tissue, which is 100 percent vegan and sustainable as it is made from pineapple leaf fibres, a by-product from the pineapple harvest in the Philippines. "The fibres are extracted from the leaves during a process called decortication, which is done at the plantation by the farming community," explains the company in a statement. The fibres then undergo an industrial process to become a non-woven textile, which is the base of Piñatex. The final step takes place at a textile finishing company in Spain, where our unique finishing process is done before being shipped all over the world." In addition, the by-product derived from the manufacturing process of Piñatex is biomass, which is converted into organic fertilizer or bio-gas and used by the farming communities, thereby closing the loop of the material's production.
Viscose production is one of the most polluting production methods; wood pulp that viscose is made from is manufactured by treating it with sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) and carbon disulphide, which is then filtered and spun into a fine thread, which then releases many toxic chemicals into the air and waterways surrounding production plants.
The new standard in eco-responsible viscose. Derived from certified renewable wood sources using an eco-responsible production process by meeting high environmental standards, LENZING is the market leader as their fibres tailor to a sustainable lifestyle, contributing to a cleaner environment. More info here;
Well I hope that makes some sense of the world of sustainability, going green with fashion and textiles, please feel free to share any ideas and solution's you’ve come across with y our clothing and accessories!