Are you enthralled by the glamour and charisma of the fashion industry? There are a number of environmental concerns in the processes which are at the core of fashion industry. Whether it is the way natural fibre raw material is grown in farmlands to their processing to make into a garment or even after production, in the form of waste generated, the concerns about the environment are many. However, fashion can be sustainable and is capable of meeting the environmental concerns arising out of growth of raw materials in farmlands. Organic clothing is the point of discussion in this article, which is one of the solutions which addresses these concerns.
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), which partners with groups like Oregon Tilth and the Organic Trade Association for certification, certifies the majority of organic textiles. Environmental and social factors are included in the GOTS certification process, as well as a general requirement of at least 70% organic fibres (explained below).
They evaluate fabrics and colouring agents for their toxicological criteria, which contain similar groups of dangerous substances to the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 list:
- Endocrine disruptors
- Heavy metals
- Complexing agents and surfactants
- Ecologically harmful compounds
- Potentially biologically
Generally, they adhere to the United Nations' Global Harmonized System (GHS), which defines substances that are recognised to be harmful to persons and the environment. Every GOTS-certified moisture operation must also use a wastewater treatment system that can measure and report their energy and water usage per kilogram of fabric output.
Textile manufacturers submit their products to one of the GOTS-certified organic certifying bodies for comprehensive testing. A GOTS expert verifies whether the manufacturer fits the GOTS standards or not and conducts an in-person inspection with the certifying body.
To keep their GOTS accreditation, all processors and producers are inspected once a year.
They acknowledge that current textile production is "almost impossible... without the use of chemical inputs," hence they advocate for the use of low-impact and low-residue compounds in their published 2014 standard. Only if the fabric is made up of at least 95% organic fibres can the GOTS certification be labelled as "Organic" (or "Organic - In Conversion," if applicable) (excluding accessories). The fabric is labelled "Made with (per cent) Organic Materials" if it is made up of 70-95 per cent organic fibres.
Routine and consensual employment, freedom of association, safe working conditions, the ban of child slavery, and the assurance of a living wage are among their social criteria (as defined by national legal or industry standards, whichever is higher).
The GOTS requirements are applied to the fibres themselves. This implies that zippers, buttons, and other clothing attachments are not tested, but linings and applications (including sizing) are.
The GOTS label looks like "100% GOTS Certified Organic Cotton" written on the fabrics. Other organic badges, such as the USDA Organic emblem, have various meanings and adhere to different certification criteria.
Are GOTS and OEKO-TEX are different or the same?
The OEKO-TEX Standard 100 and the GOTS certifications are more similar than dissimilar. Textiles are subjected to thorough testing at all stages of manufacture for the presence and residue of substances that are either known or suspected to be harmful to persons and/or the environment. Both sets of standards are stringent, and distributors and producers are audited annually to ensure that they are meeting the certification's requirements.
All fabric, notion, or garment parts, including zippers and buttons, are tested by OEKO-TEX; GOTS does not. The OEKO-TEX Standard 100 badge guarantees that all components of a garment or textile fulfil the stringent Standard 100 criteria; the GOTS logo indicates that a garment or textile is 70-100 per cent organic, a percentage range that may cause some consumers to be concerned.