Ethical and sustainable fashion certifications. So, you want to start buying sustainable and ethical clothing, but where do you start? Filling your closet with eco-conscious pieces made by people earning fair wages in proper working conditions is the heart of ethical fashion.
When you are just starting to cultivate your sustainable closet, it can be challenging to know what brands are ethical and sustainable and which ones are not. Looking for certifications is an easy way to identify ethical fashion.
More than likely, a sustainable company will have some information on how they implement sustainable practices on their website. Along with this information, there should be the certifications they have or initiatives they are a part of. These certifications can help you determine which brands to purchase from.
1% for the Planet
An organization that inspires businesses to give back to the Earth by donating 1% of profits to credible environmental nonprofits, that is 1% for the Plant.
1% for the Planet connects its members to nonprofit organizations to facilitate direct collaborations, donations, volunteering, etc. While this is not exclusively related to fashion, there are a lot of fashion brand members. As well as the participating nonprofits whose missions affect ethical and sustainable shopping.
Some brands participating in 1% for the Planet:
Certified B Corporation
B Corp Certification is a holistic measure of a company’s social and environmental impact. For a company to obtain this certification, every aspect of their business will be evaluated from the supply chain, employee benefits, environmental impact, materials used, to their community impact.
Some Certified B Corporations are:
Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) offers a certification for products made with at least 70% organic fibers as well as compliance with other social and environmental criteria such as energy and water consumption.
Keep in mind that just because a brand has one product that is made with GOTS certified textile, it doesn’t mean that all their products are GOTS certified. For this certification, you are looking at the individual product and whether it was made with a GOTS certified textile.
Some brands with GOTS certified clothing:
Fair Trade Certified
For clothing, the Fair Trade certification label indicates that the product was made in a Fair Trade Certified factory. This includes transparent supply chains as well as sustainable earnings and working conditions for the workers.
Some brands with Fair Trade Certified clothing are:
OEKO-TEX is an organization with multiple standards all pertaining to the safety of, the sustainability of, and the social welfare in the production of textiles.
STANDARD 100 – this standard ensures that every component of the garment has been tested for harmful substances.
MADE IN GREEN – a traceable label that ensures the product was tested for harmful substances and was manufactured using sustainable processes in socially responsible working environments. The label will come with a product ID you can enter on their website to see where the product was produced.
LEATHER STANDARD – this label indicates that the leather good was tested for harmful substances at every stage of production.
STeP – Sustainable Textile and Leather Production (SteP) is another standard by OEKO-TEX. This standard is a part of the MADE IN GREEN standard. It is a certification for the entire textile & leather production chain with the goal of certifying socially and environmentally responsible production.
A Bluesign certification ensures that the product was made with sustainable textile manufacturing principles. In addition to sustainable processing, other Bluesign certifications regulate the safety of the consumer in regards to the products as well as safety in the workplace.
Some Bluesign certified brands include:
Fair Wear Foundation
Fair Wear is a nonprofit organization with the goal of making ethical fashion the new industry norm. They perform brand performance checks, factory audits, factory training, as well as have helpline available to any workers with complaints.
Some Fair Wear participating brands include:
Soil Association Organic
Soil Association Organic is an organic certification body based in the UK. In addition to certifying food, beauty, and farming, they also have a certification for organic fashion and textiles.
Some Soil Association Organic brands include:
As you can see there are many certifications out there for sustainable and ethical fashion and I’m sure there are several more that are not on this list. Knowing the different certifications and what they mean is a good place to start when transitioning to ethical and sustainable shopping.
However, just because a brand does not have any of these certifications it doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t implement sustainable or ethical practices. Having the certification shows the consumer their commitment to sustainable and ethical processes.
When you are looking for ethical and sustainable brands, you do not have to try and find those that have all of these certifications. Although several of the brands I listed do have more than one certification. For example, Everlane is both GOTS and Bluesign certified and Patagonia is a part of multiple certifications and standards.
You can use the brand directories found on the certification body’s website as a tool to check and see if a brand you are interested in is certified. Or you can use it to find new sustainable and ethical brands to explore.
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