Why go eco?
Nowadays, everybody is aware of what’s happening in the fashion industry. Fast fashion is polluting and destroying our planet. In sweatshops people are working under terrible and dangerous circumstances, only to provide us – the consumer – with garments we pay an unrealistically low price for, and we throw away after wearing it just a couple of times.
Sewing your clothes is sustainable in itself because you take out the labor of the production chain. Which is very good! But have you ever wondered where your fabrics come from? They probably are produced in facilities that also manufacture fabrics for the fast fashion industry…
Choosing better fabrics
When looking for eco-friendly and sustainable fabrics to create your garments or DIY projects with, there are many different aspects you can take into account. What eco means to you is very personal, and it can contain multiple characteristics: the origin of the fibers, the chemicals used for dying, the land it’s produced in, water use, the use of biological cotton, the way it’s packaged, carbon footprint, fabric from recycled materials and so on.
Although we feel all of the above is important, at this moment in time, it’s very difficult to find fabrics that match your expectations regarding these criteria. There is a very low level of transparency when it comes to finding out such details when shopping for fabrics.
The fabric you have your eye on might be produced in Europe, might be organic or naturally dyed with plants, but most of the time it’s not possible to get this type of detailed information. Either the information is not known by the person selling it, or they don’t display the information on a tag or online. Which makes it very hard to know if you are buying ‘better fabrics’. So how can you know what you are buying?
One relatively simple way of getting more insights, and therefore an actual choice is buying fabrics that have a certification. This is an easy way in the sense that you know the manufacturer and its products have been tested and approved to label their products with a certificate. So they meet the demands, and you as a consumer can get insights into what the certification stands for, what they test, and how often they have to get tested to keep their certified status.
There are several certifications and each of them has its characteristics. It’s up to you to determine which one has your preference and ticks your boxes. For now, we focus on 2 internationally recognized certifications: GOTS and OEKO-TEX.
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the most comprehensive international textile processing standard for organic fibers, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire supply chain.
Criteria for production include organic fiber content, use of heavy metals, restriction on bleaches, dyes, procedures to minimize waste, and no PVC packaging of the products. The social criteria include no forced or child labor, the right to collective bargaining, safe and hygienic working conditions, protection of wages and working hours, no discrimination, and hours management.
Want to know more about GOTS certifications? Visit their website
OEKO-TEX is a test and certifying system for textiles that focus on restricting the use of harmful substances in textile manufacturing. The demands are very strict and are monitored regularly. A certificate has to be renewed every year.
Although the label focuses on the health aspect of the textile product, the guidelines for the use of harmful substances also has interfaces with the ecological dimension of sustainability. A fabric that is certified as STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX is proven to be skin-friendly in various classes, including products for infants, products with direct skin contact, and decoration material. The closer to the skin, the stricter the demands.
Want to know more about OEKO-TEX certifications? Visit their website