There are so many certificates – which ones can I trust?
As a startup with no previous experience of working within the textile industry, we've had to find answers to many questions. One of the most confusing ones is about what certification standards are really sustainable - and which ones are on the verge of greenwashing.
The question of what kind of certificates to rely on has puzzled us, but we have decided to trust GOTS certified cotton. It means it has been certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard.
For Lub Dub Denim, both environmental and social sustainability is of great importance. Have a look at our suppliers and what certificates they have - here.
The most used certificate is BCI (Better Cotton Initiative). They say they aim to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in, and better for the future of the cotton industry. It has become the largest cotton sustainability program in the world.
Big fashion brands like H&M, Nike, GAP, Urban Outfitters, Ralph Lauren, Ted Baker, Next, Diesel and their likes, want to tell their consumers they are making a difference and working towards sustainability. They use and choose BCI because it’s the cheap, easy way out. It really is a greenwashing label compared to GOTS.
BCI is not by far as clear, regulated or strict as GOTS.
The big players are happy that BCI has become the most used standard, as it is less expensive than for example following GOTS. This is because BCI allows the use of pesticides.
BCI is not by far as clear, regulated or strict as GOTS. It uses the weak, non-binding word “should” in all of their seven principles.
- Farmers should minimize the harmful impact of crop protection practices
- They should promote water stewardship
- They should care for the health of the soil
- BCI Farmers should enhance biodiversity and use land responsibly
- They should care for and preserve fibre quality
- They should promote decent work
- And BCI Farmers should operate an effective management system
Having non-binding principles means you cannot know if farmers operating under BCI principles are actually growing and producing organic cotton, it only means they sign off to “try”.
Organic cotton uses 92% less water than conventional cotton, and uses no synthetic pesticides or fertilisers. BCI, meanwhile, tolerates the use of pesticides and genetically modified seeds.
Sadly, the rapid growth of the Better Cotton Initiative is driving down sustainability standards in the cotton industry. Farmers are seeing that big fashion brands have settled for this labelling standard - and the farmers choose the easiest and cheapest way to please their buyers. It’s as simple as that.
This means BCI actually makes the Organic cotton production less relevant and farmers switch back to using non-organic cotton that still fits the loose regulations of BCI.
Being a sustainable consumer isn’t easy but we can all try and educate ourselves. We must be using our critical eyes, in order to see through weak attempts to greenwash vs actual efforts to improve and make the clothing industry sustainable.
Our vision for Lub Dub Denim is create products that add value, not waste. We want our products to be produced sustainably but also last for a long time – and when they cannot be gifted, upcycled or recycled any longer, they are biodegradable.
We have a few of links here for you to read – these articles are from various sites and sources including the official websites for BCI and GOTS. All links open up in new windows.
Great read about BCI; we have been inspired and much of this post is based on this article.
Great read about why traceability is super important – and what “mass balance” is:
An article on how certifications aren’t always a guarantee for anything:
The Global Fashion Business Journal
Danish blog about the textile industry and how BCI and child labour are intertwined:
Detox My Fashion - an ongoing Greenpeace campaign since 2011 with the purpose to get brands to work harder towards sustainability for nature and human