RECOGNISING ECO-SUSTAINABLE CLOTHES: Health and Nature say thank you
After knowing what lies behind fast-fashion (FAST FASHION – The truth behind low-priced clothes: if you know them avoid them) it is impossible not to look for alternatives that guarantee the protection of the health of our skin, of workers in factories and on the planet.
For this reason, textile certifications can be an important guarantee that can help us establish the sustainability of the product we are going to buy.
WHAT IS AN ECO-SUSTAINABLE PRODUCT
A product (whether it is clothing or belonging to other categories) can be defined as eco-sustainable if it meets certain environmental and social standards imposed by regulations. They are guaranteed through specific internationally recognized certifications and are issued by competent state or private bodies. These bodies make use of the collaboration of scholars, experts and scientists who have the task of analyzing the production processes and the components of the products before they are placed on the market.
SUSTAINABILITY IN FASHION
As for fashion, if we buy clothes at low prices we can be sure that they will not have any certification and will be produced in polluting factories, where workers live in dilapidated conditions of slavery, where toxic substances are used and where they undoubtedly are abused animals.
It often happens that people, certain of having made a good business from an ethical and environmental point of view, buy designer clothes paying very high prices.
However, even a sky-high price is not synonymous with quality and sustainability. Indeed, many high fashion brands – with the phenomenon of delocalisation – have shifted production to countries where there are no rules to protect workers, the environment, animals and consumer health.
Just learning to read labels can help us purchase a sustainable product.
Also in this case the price cannot be low: there are in fact essential elements such as sustainable and non-toxic production materials, the use of plants and equipment in accordance with, insurance and adequate salaries for workers who have high costs and affect on the final price of the products.
But in this way we at least have the certainty of buying something that does not harm us, who produced it and nature.
The following certifications guarantee the eco-sustainability of products in the fashion industry.
• Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
It is an international non-profit certificate. It certifies that the material with which the product is made comes from plantations in accordance with, which do not contribute to deforestation or that implement an intelligent deforestation, that is in respect of the inhabitants (animals and people) and followed by cycles of new planting of trees.
It is a certification recognized only at European level and guarantees the use of non-toxic products, production in non-polluting plants, workers’ health and quality tests without animal testing.
It is the main certification for fair trade products. It guarantees health and safety in the workplace, as well as providing livelihoods for farmers and workers in underdeveloped countries.
•Fair Wear Foundation e Social Accountability International (SAI)-SA8000
These certifications ensure the protection of textile industry workers. It guarantees that there is no child exploitation, regular contracts, fair salaries, no gender discrimination and freedom of trade union associations.
Certifications against exploitation and animal testing or against the use of animal-derived substances
•Animal Free Fashion (AFF)
Associate an evaluation rating corresponding to V – VV – VVV or VVV +
The VVV + rating is assigned to fashion companies that renounce all the materials listed above. While the lower rating V is assigned to those who renounce only to furs, continuing to use other materials of animal origin.
It can be assigned through “tests” carried out by external bodies, but it is also possible to self-certify one’s own products as long as they comply with the UNI EN ISO 14021 standard. The difference is in the type of certificate issued: a certification by external bodies (eg ICEA) has more value and credibility than self-certification.
•Gobal Organic Texile Standard (GOTS)
One of the most important and sought-after textile certifications. It attests that the plantations from which the materials were obtained (cotton, hemp, flax, jute, nettle) have not been treated with pesticides, insecticides and toxic substances.
•Organic Content Standard (OCS)
It is a certificate issued by the international organization Textile Exchange (NGO). Ensures that the product contains a certain percentage of Organic Cotton not less than 95%.
Recycled Material Certifications
The certifications to pay more attention to are, however, environmental certifications, social certifications and biological certifications.
Despite being very important, the certifications of recycled materials and the certifications against animal exploitation or the use of animal derivatives do not attest to the entire ecosustainability of the product.
A vegan product, for example, does not certify that workers have not been exploited, that factories are in order or that toxic substances have not been used for the final consumer.
Just as it would be advisable to avoid products that contain percentages of materials such as
recycled plastic, polyamide and polyester, as the complete disposal of toxic substances that were previously present is not guaranteed.
Moreover – as conscious consumers – we should avoid all those products that use substances that pollute and hurt our health (even if recycled) because in this way we send an important message: it is as if we said “I don’t want anything that has inside these harmful substances ”. It will certainly be a good starting point to take us to a future where they will no longer be used. If in fact the consumer does not want a product, nobody will produce it anymore. The power of our choices is able to change the offers on the market.