Sustainable Certification: What does it all mean?!
Tuesday just gone, we went to our first sustainable fashion networking evening at Wework with the Lone Design club. It was an evening of talks, panelists and chatting with other like minded people! We listened to two amazing women leading the way in getting sustainable fashion talked about, one of which was Olivia Pinnock who has inspired this blog post! She spoke about how confusing all these different sustainable certifications for businesses can be and it made me think about it from a consumer perspective. What do all these certifications mean on our clothes and sustainable websites, do they fit with my values of sustainable fashion? I had all these questions and I wasn't really sure of the answer. So I thought I'd do some digging and find out what some of the most common sustainable fashion certifications are and what they actually stand for so that when you or I are buying clothes you can make a more informed decision!
First thing to note, which I hadn't really thought about before, is that sustainability for fashion can be, at the simplest level, split into three sections: ethical, environmental and animal welfare. From this you can then decide what is most important to you and what comes to mind first when you think sustainable fashion. For me I care about all three of the above deeply, but the first things that come to mind when I think about what it really means to be sustainable is that the workers making the garments get a fair wage and good living and working conditions, secondly that the materials and the way the clothes are made create minimal damage to the environment. So now when I look at clothing labels or brands and see they have a certain certification, that should tell if/how they have met certain criteria. BUT what do are the most common certifications and what do they mean I hear you say?! Well below I have listed the most common certifications for clothes and what they cover so that you know next time you're shopping what to look outfit and which brands fit to your criteria of what sustainable fashion means to you.
1. The Fairtrade Mark - this means that the cotton in the item of clothing was produced by a Fairtrade certified producer organisation in a developing country, who will be receiving a fair and stable price for their cotton. To become fairtrade certified you have to be assessed by the FLOCERT. The producers have to meet the fairtrade standards which aim to provide support for social, economic, and environmental development of small scale farmers, and completely prohibit forced labour and child labour.
2. Global Organic Textile Standard - If you see this on a label then you know the item will be made from at least 70% organic fibres and meets the Soil Association standards. They have to confirm that they have a high social standards, reduce any energy waste and look at their water consumption.
3. The Fair Wear Foundation - if you see this on a brands website it means they have committed to FWF verifying and improving their supply chain conditions. FWF verify based on their own standards, which are set out in accordance with eight labour standards created from ILO conventions, and the UN's Declaration on Human Rights. They work on three levels verifying and improving the company from the workplace to the company to the organisation.
4. Made in Green - this label means that the product being made has come from a company that that manufactures in factories that respects the environment and the universal rights of workers.
5. PETA Approved - if a company is approved by PETA than it means they do not conduct or commission any animal tests on ingredients, formulations, or finished products and that they pledge not to do so in the future.
For me, I think all of the above are important to look out for when purchasing clothes in the future. A great way to find out what a brands policy is on ethical, environmental or animal welfare standards, a great place to start is on their corporate information section of their website.
I hope you found this post insightful, I think it has definitely extended my knowledge of what the brands really mean why they are sustainable!