Organic vs. Non-Organic

Difference between Organic Cotton and Regular Cotton

We all know about organic food. What does it mean for other materials to be "organic"? Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based in large part on the standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), an international umbrella organization for organic farming organizations established in 1972. Some benefits of organic materials:

  • No chemical pesticides are used 
  • Organic cotton farming produces far less CO2 emissions - Organic farming takes 1.5 tonnes of CO2 per acre per year are taken out of the atmosphere 
  • Organic cotton farming uses up to 60% less water than conventional farming methods 
  • Pesticide or herbicide residues are not entered accidentally into the environment
  • Humans and animals are not exposed to chemical pesticides or herbicides
  • When the fabric is discarded, pesticides and herbicides are not returned to the earth in landfill, or enter into recycling process.

Whenever possible, we feature companies whose materials are certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Key criteria for processing and manufacturing include:

Environmental Criteria

  • At all stages through the processing organic fibre products must be separated from conventional fibre products and must to be clearly identified
  • All chemical inputs (e.g. dyes, auxiliaries and process chemicals) must be evaluated and meeting basic requirements on toxicity and biodegradability/eliminability
  • Prohibition of critical inputs such as toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde, aromatic solvents, functional nano particles, genetically modified organisms (GMO) and their enzymes
  • The use of synthetic sizing agents is restricted; knitting and weaving oils must not contain heavy metals
  • Bleaches must be based on oxygen (no chlorine bleaching)
  • Azo dyes that release carcinogenic amine compounds are prohibited
  • Discharge printing methods using aromatic solvents and plastisol printing methods using phthalates and PVC are prohibited
  • Restrictions for accessories (e.g. no PVC, nickel or chrome permitted)
  • All operators must have an environmental policy including target goals and procedures to minimise waste and discharges
  • Wet processing units must keep full records of the use of chemicals, energy, water consumption and waste water treatment, including the disposal of sludge. The waste water from all wet processing units must be treated in a functional waste water treatment plant.
  • Packaging material must not contain PVC. Paper or cardboard used in packaging material, hang tags, swing tags etc. must be recycled or certified according to FSC or PEFC

Technical Quality and Human Toxicity Criteria

  • Technical quality parameters must be met (s.a. rubbing, perspiration, light and washing fastness and shrinkage values)
  • Raw materials, intermediates, final textile products as well as accessories must meet stringent limits regarding unwanted residues

You may not know that when you buy from GOTS certified companies, you're not only preventing harmful chemicals and pesticides from being introduced into local communities and the environment, but that the GOTS also guarantees adherence to key worker rights: 

Minimum social criteria based on the key norms of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) must be met by all processors and manufacturers. They must have a social compliance management with defined elements in place to ensure that the social criteria can be met. For adequate implementation and assessment of the following social criteria topics the listed applicable key conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

  • Employment is freely chosen
    C29 - Forced Labour Convention
    C105 - Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
  • Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining are respected
    C87 - Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention
    C98 - Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention
    C135 - Workers' Representatives Convention
    C154 - Collective Bargaining Convention
  • Working conditions are safe and hygienic
    C155 - Occupational Safety and Health Convention
  • Child labour must not be used
    C138 - Minimum Age Convention
    C182 - Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention
  • Living wages
    C95 - Protection of Wages Convention
    C131 - Minimum Wage Fixing Convention
  • Working hours are not excessive
    C1 - Hours of Work (Industry) Convention
    C14 - Weekly Rest (Industry) Convention
    C30 - Hours of Work (Commerce and Offices) Convention
    C106 - Weekly Rest (Commerce and Offices) Convention
  • No discrimination is practised
    C100 - Equal Remuneration Convention
    C111 - Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention
  • Regular employment is provided
    C158: Termination of Employment Convention
    C175: Part-time Work Convention
    C177: Homework Convention
    C181 Private Employment Agencies Convention
  • Harsh or inhumane treatment is prohibited
    C29 - Forced Labour Convention
    C105 - Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
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