There are a lot of buzz words in the eco-fashion world. Things like organic, sustainable, and fair-trade are all ones that we would hope authentically describe the products they are attached to; but how do we know?
Education is everything, so start by becoming an informed consumer and do some pre-purchase investigating. Internationally recognized certifications can save us from sifting through technical jargon and provide assurance that that from fibre to fabric, every step of a product’s supply chain is considered, regulated, and monitored.
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and the Global Recycle Standard (GRS) consist of very similar sets of sourcing and production regulations, the main difference being that the GOTS is for natural fibres and the GRS addresses synthetic materials that contain recycled content. These standards each have a long list of environmental, technical, and social criteria that dictate how the fibres are sourced and treated.
To protect the planet, the source of the fibres, the types of dyes allowed, and the packaging used must be up to snuff by a set of environmental standards. Chemical restriction and use, water use and treatment, and energy consumption are all monitored and contribute to the waste management standards that each company must meet.
All materials, whether raw inputs or final products, must meet technical quality requirements and be safe for human use (i.e. not too toxic or suffocating.) The social practices must be in line with the criteria set out by the International Labour Organization (ILO); things like the job must be freely chosen, provide hygienic conditions and humane treatment, and payment must equate to a living wage.
To obtain and keep a certification for these standards, companies must consistently meet all the requirements and also pass the audits and unannounced inspections that enforcement teams conduct.
Why should we care about these standards? Because they are helping keep people and the planet safe by dictating respectful practices for where, what, and how things are manufactured, and respecting the people who do the work. Every time you choose an item that is produced using these standards, you are making a choice with your purchase to support the betterment of humanity and how we impact the planet.
“The clothing industry is the second most polluting industry in the world (next to oil) and one of the largest employers of slave and child labour.” - Zady
If we as store owners, clothing designers, and consumers don’t use our dollars to show our support for better practices, the harmful production processes and working conditions so rampant in the clothing industry will just be perpetuated. You might not be able to single handedly get rid of sweatshops, but at least you can make an effort to ensure that none of the items in your house came from one. One sustainably made pair of jeans won’t necessarily change the carbon footprint of an international company, but a lifetime of mindful purchases will make not only an impact, but a statement. You can be a leader for change by sharing awesome sustainable brands with your family and friends and encouraging them to also be responsible with their purchases.
All the fabrics we use to create our locally designed SALT line of clothing are sustainably sourced, like our bamboo jersey styles. Bamboo is a sustainable, durable fibre that is used in many industries and has been a welcome addition to the array of sustainable fabric options out there. Check out our bamboo styles and more online or in-store and add a little mindfulness to your wardrobe.