What is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)?
“Made of GOTS certified cotton” might be the most used sentence on stricters.com. All of our clothing is GOTS certified. But what does that actually say? GOTS is short for Global Organic Textile Standard is one of the most used sustainable certifications of this moment. The hallmark guarantees sustainable and ethical production of organic fabrics, like organic cotton, wool or linen.
The label was founded in 2006 and had the goal to become the international standard for organic cotton. In short: they succeeded very well. GOTS has become a universal label for organic cotton and is acknowledged all around the globe.
The interesting thing is that GOTS not only looks at the organic production and processing of the fabrics, but also at the fair and humane treatment of people in the production chain. Therefore, it is an inclusive label that can ensure consumers of an ethical production process that protects both the earth and the workers.
There are two versions of the GOTS-label: clothing that consists for 95% of organic textiles and clothing that consists for 70% of organic textiles. For the second version (75%), the producer is obligated to mention the percentage on the label. So when you see a GOTS-certification that doesn’t have a percentage, you know that your clothing item consists for at least of 95% organic textile.
How and what does GOTS verify?
There are four different aspects on which GOTS checks a label: the fabric, the impact on the environment, social safety measures and the technical quality.
The first aspect that GOTS focuses on is the material of the clothing: cotton, linen or wool. GOTS certified fabrics are made of fibers that are organically grown by the farmers. By “organically grown” GOTS means that the farmer produces according to the organic standards of the country where the end product is being sold. In Europe this means that for example pesticides and carcinogenic chemicals cannot be used in the production of clothing.
Impact on the environment
Next to the growing of organic fibers, the production process must also meet biological standards of GOTS to reduct the impact on the environment. Those rules are as follows:
- Biological fibers will be seperated from “normal” fibers
- Heavy chemicals and metals must be avoided and some of them are even prohibited. Bleach must be with a base of oxygen, not of chlorine Azo paint is prohibited, just like PVC, nickel and chromium. Toxic chemicals are prohibited to guarantee the safety of garment workers and consumers.
- Packaging must be made of paper or carton. These must be recycled or must have a FSC or PEFC-certification.
GOTS looks further than just the materials and the fabrics. It also has strict rules for the working conditions. They use the next rules that concern the human rights: These rights are based on the International Labor Organization conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- Work is voluntarily chosen, there is no forced labor
- Freedom of union for workers
- Safe and hygienic working conditions
- No child labor
- A minimum wage
- No excessive working times
- No discrimination
- Work security; fair labor contracts
- Inhumane treatment of people is prohibited.
The last aspect that GOTS looks at is the quality of the garments. Something is only sustainable when it’s durable. Clothing items need to pass several tests. These tests will check the product on attrition, perspiration, light and wash consistency and shrinkage. It will also be investigated whether the fabric leaves any undesirable residuals.
Why is this label so important?
That’s quite a list of criteria! If you look at the specific rules, the list will become a lot longer The reason that GOTS is so strict on the biological cultivating process is because the production of regular textiles are detrimental for nature. For the production of regular cotton, a lot of chemicals are used. And we’re talking about a whole lot: for just one cotton T-shirt (250 grams) an amount of 150 grams of pure chemicals and pesticides are being used. Besides that, those chemicals are very harmful for nature and for human. They create a resource depletion of the ground and cotton farmers cope with very bad health issues like: skin problems, severe brain damage or cancer. The fabrics that are used for the textile industry have an enormous impact on the environment. Humans and animals cope with this on a daily basis.
Fortunately, there are great alternatives! Organic textile fibers can be produced without harmful chemicals and working conditions can be humane and fair. GOTS checks the standards and works together with clothing producers to improve the textile industry.
Do you want more information?
Check out the website of GOTS for more specific information and guidelines.
Or watch this video in which the policy of GOTS is clearly explained.