Shop green: Certification schemes for ethical and eco-conscious clothing

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More than ever, fashion seems to have mastered the use of terms like “green” and “clean,” but does that really mean that the clothes we buy are ethical, sustainable and environmentally friendly?

To avoid making mistakes and being sure to choose brands and products that meet expectations, it can be helpful to look for trusted labels and green certification schemes that guarantee strict standards regarding toxic substances, organic farming, fair trade and respect for the environment. Here are five that you can rely on for a (truly) eco-friendly wardrobe.

Banishing toxic substances


For almost three decades, the Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex label has been recognised worldwide and guarantees that textiles are free from harmful substances at every stage of production and processing. Here, the focus is on health protection, certifying that a given textile – a raw material or a finished product – will not harm consumer health. Several categories of textile products are covered by the scheme, with stricter requirements for those in direct contact with the skin, not to mention for items for babies and children. The label now has other certification schemes, such as Leather Standard.

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Favouring organic textiles

Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)

Based on strict social and environmental criteria, the global GOTS standard guarantees the organic nature of textiles, from raw materials to manufacturing and labeling. All GOTS-certified products are made from organic fibres (95% minimum for level 1). However, it’s also about guaranteeing production processes that are respectful of the planet, as well as working conditions and social criteria based on the standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO).

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If a garment carries the bioRe Sustainable Textiles label, it’s because it has been made from a large quantity of organic cotton produced in an ecological and fair way, with total transparency on the entire production process. A traceability tool even offers access to a host of information about the textiles in question. Among the many criteria guaranteed by the label are the absence of pesticides and synthetic chemical fertilisers for growing – not to mention toxic substances during dyeing processes – as well as commitments to farmers.

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Limiting environmental impact

The EU Ecolabel

The European Commission created this label almost thirty years ago. Although no label can yet guarantee that your clothes will have zero impact on the planet, this certification scheme ensures that this impact is limited thanks to strict environmental standards at each stage in the lifecycle of the dress, pants or T-shirt that will end up in your closet. As well as limiting harmful substances, for both humans and the environment, this standard also seeks to limit waste and carbon dioxide emissions, among other criteria. This label is used for clothes as well as for cosmetics, household products and even furniture.

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Encouraging fair trade

Fairtrade/Max Havelaar

Textiles, cosmetics, jewelry, flowers and food products can all obtain this label if they meet a very strict set of specifications including social, environmental and economic criteria. Put simply, these products are manufactured according to fair trade principles, in that they help maintain and improve the living and working conditions of farmers and producers in disadvantaged regions, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere, while also encouraging organic farming and preserving ecosystems. Note that the specifications can vary significantly depending on the sector and the country concerned.

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This story was published via ETX Daily Up.

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