The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. The textile industry is responsible for emitting about 12% of the total global CO2 emissions. The fashion industry has a reputation for being wasteful and unsustainable, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here is a review of some of the leading sustainable, ethical, social, and environmental standards, certifications, and other schemes presented in this article.
Better Cotton Initiative – BCI
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is the largest cotton sustainability program in the world. By ensuring the exchange of good practices, and encouraging the scaling up of collective action, the BCI aims to transform cotton production worldwide and establish Better Cotton as a sustainable mainstream commodity. Through BCI and its Partners, farmers receive training on how to use water efficiently, care for the health of the soil and natural habitats, reduce the use of the most harmful chemicals and apply decent work principles. BCI Farmers implementing this system are licensed to sell Better Cotton. The BCI logo or packaging does not mean the product is made of physically traceable Better Cotton. It means that you’re buying a majority cotton product, from a retailer or brand that is committed to sourcing Better Cotton and investing in BCI Farmers. About Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)
BLUESIGN is an independent authority that provides solutions in sustainable processing and manufacturing to industries and brands. To bear the bluesign® label, the manufacturers and brands are required to act responsibly and sustainably with regard to people, the environment, and resources. BLUESIGN checks the progress that a company has made in this effort, provides continual further development of solutions, and continuously optimizes its strict criteria. About Bluesign
Canopy works with the forest industry’s biggest customers and their suppliers to develop business solutions that protect last frontier forests. Canopy helps the forest industry’s largest customers, from book publishers and printers to leading clothing brands and fashion designers, to shape their purchasing practices and create permanent solutions for the world’s threatened forests.
OEKO TEX and its portfolio of independent certifications support fashion companies in acting responsibly and making sustainable purchasing decisions.
- The product labels STANDARD 100 and LEATHER STANDARD are available for textile and leather products that have been tested for harmful substances and which are thus safe from a human-ecological perspective.
- With the MADE IN GREEN label, you can identify textiles that have been tested for harmful substances and also manufactured under sustainable working conditions.
- The STeP certification and the DETOX TO ZERO analysis optimize the manufacturing process for ecological and socially responsible textile and leather production.
- The ECO PASSPORT identifies environmentally friendly chemicals, auxiliaries, and colorants used in the textile and leather industry.
Organic Content Standard – OCS
The Organic Content Standard (OCS) applies to any non-food product containing 95-100 percent organic material. Relying on third-party checks, it verifies the presence and amount of organic material in a final product and tracks the flow of the raw material from its source to the final product. OCS 100 covers the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, trading, and distribution of a product that contains at least 95 % certified ‘organic’ materials. It can be used as a business-to-business tool to give companies the means to ensure that they are selling quality and getting what they pay for. About Organic Content Standard – OCS
Global Organic Textile Standard – GOTS
GOTS is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibers, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. The GOTS quality assurance system is based on on-site inspection and certification of the entire textile supply chain (processing and trade). Operators from post-harvest handling up to garment making, as well as wholesalers (including exporters and importers), have to undergo an on-site annual inspection cycle and must hold a valid certification in order for the final products to be labelled as GOTS certified. About Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
Ethical Clothing Australia – ECA
An Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) accreditation not only demonstrates that a business is committed to supporting the local Australian textile, clothing and footwear industry, but also that its supply chain is transparent and ethical from design to dispatch. ECA’s accreditation program is focused on ensuring that local garment workers are being paid appropriately and are working in safe workplaces throughout the entire supply chain. An ECA accreditation certifies that third-party checks had been undertaken to ensure compliance with the relevant Australian workplace laws. About Ethical Clothing Australia – ECA
Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production – WRAP
WRAP is the world’s largest independent certification program focused on maintaining the integrity of supply chains of the apparel, footwear, and sewn products sectors. The WRAP certification is recognized around the world as proof of social compliance in the apparel industry. WRAP only certifies individual production units, allowing the auditors to get an “on the ground” perspective of each facility’s operations to ensure that they are maintaining compliant practices. All certifications require periodic renewal depending on the level, and all certified facilities are subject to unannounced follow-up visits during their certification periods. About Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production – WRAP
Fair Wear Foundation – FWF
The Fair Wear Foundation focuses on garment production, specifically sewing, cutting, and trimming processes–the most labor-intensive parts of the supply chain. The foundation works with 140+ member brands, who are committed to finding a fairer way to make clothes, and engages directly with factories, trade unions, NGOs and governments to stitch together new solutions across the supply chain and make fashion fair for everyone. About Fair Wear Foundation – FWF
World Fair Trade Organization – WFTO
The WFTO is the global community and verifier of social enterprises that fully practice Fair Trade. The WFTO’s Guarantee System is the only international verification model focused on social enterprises that put the interests of workers, farmers, and artisans first. Through peer reviews and independent audits, WFTO verifies members are mission-led enterprises fully practicing the 10 Principles of Fair Trade across their business and supply chains. Once verified, all members have free use of the WFTO Guaranteed Fair Trade product label. About World Fair Trade Organization – WFTO
Global Recycle Standard – GRS
The Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) and Global Recycled Standard (GRS) are international, voluntary standards that set requirements for third-party certification of recycled input and chain of custody. The shared goal of the standards is to increase the use of recycled materials. The GRS includes additional criteria for social and environmental processing requirements and chemical restrictions. About Global Recycle Standard – GRS
Fashion for Good
A platform for sustainable fashion innovation and a call for industry-wide collaboration. The mission of Fashion for Good is to bring together the entire fashion ecosystem together and act as a convenor for change. Fashion for Good guides the sector with an aspirational model that all can use. “The Five Goods” (good materials, good economy, good energy, good water, and good lives) form a genuine and accountable framework with the promise of social, economic, and environmental prosperity. About Fashion for Good
Helping consumers choose the more sustainable and ethical option by showing them the positive impact they are making on websites. By providing a simple, credible, and flexible impact marketing platform, Green Story is bringing a sustainable way of doing business into the mainstream. About Green Story
The certifications issued by Ecocert guarantee and highlight the best environmentally friendly and socially conscious practices. Originally Ecocert specializes in organic agriculture products. As pioneers in organic textile certification, they have been promoting the use of raw materials of plant origin for the textile industry for nearly 20 years. For textiles, the ECOCERT label means the fabric is either GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), OCS (Organic Content Standard), and/or Ecological & Recycled Textiles (Ecocert Standard) certified. About ECOCERT
Sustainable Apparel Coalition
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is the apparel, footwear, and textile industry’s leading alliance for sustainable production. It’s vision is of an industry that produces no unnecessary environmental harm and has a positive impact on the people and communities associated with its activities. The Coalition develops the Higg Index, a suite of tools that standardizes value chain sustainability measurement for all industry participants. These tools measure environmental and social labor impacts across the value chain. With this data, the industry can identify hotspots, continuously improve sustainability performance, and achieve the environmental and social transparency consumers are demanding. About Sustainable Apparel Coalition – SAC
The NSF is a global, independent organization, dedicated to protecting and improving global human health. Through standards, certification, and auditing services the NSF supports the sustainability strategies of textiles, apparel, and footwear companies, among others.
- The Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) and the Global Recycled Standard (GRS) verify recycled content claims, differentiating both pre-consumer and post-consumer waste.
- The Organic Content Standard (OCS) provides third-party verification of organic material content in a product. After the raw material is certified as organic, the OCS tracks the use of organic content in processing and manufacturing activities.
- The Global Traceable Down Standard (Global TDS) and the Responsible Down Standard (RDS) ensures that down in garments and other products come from a responsible source that respects animal welfare, which entails prohibiting live-plucking and force-feeding.
- The Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) addresses the welfare of sheep, social accountability, and land management practices, and prohibits cruel practices such as mulesing and tail docking.
- The Content Claim Standard (CCS) verifies content claims and traceability of specific materials. It provides the manufacturers, brands, retailers, traders, and organizations with a strong chain of custody system for raw materials from source to the final product. About NSF International
People also ask
What are sustainability certification schemes?
Sustainability standards and certifications are voluntary guidelines used by producers, manufacturers, traders, retailers, and service providers to demonstrate their commitment to good environmental, social, ethical, and food safety practices. There are over 400 such standards across the world.
Is OEKO-TEX sustainable?
The ECO PASSPORT by OEKO-TEX® identifies environmentally friendly chemicals, auxiliaries, and colorants used in the textile and leather industry. STeP certifies production facilities that manufacture textile and leather articles under sustainable production conditions.