Trying to find sustainable fashion brands to support can be overwhelming. Which ones can you trust? Are you being greenwashed? How can you tell? One of the easiest ways to find this out is through a brands’ ethical certifications. These certifications help with the brands’ transparency and give you peace of mind when looking for that sustainable statement piece you’ve been saving for. But it’s important to know which one’s are which, what they mean, and whether they are reliable so you can confidently purchase without being greenwashed. So, here are 7 ethical certifications and what they mean.
A quick disclaimer: Smaller sustainable brands may not be able to afford these certifications despite their best efforts, which doesn’t mean they aren’t trustworthy! Also larger companies who have one or two of these, may not be perfectly ethical. But they create more transparency in the industry which is massively important to the sustainable fashion movement.
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) focuses on the production of cotton, and improving the environmental and social impacts from cotton production. If you see a label with this certification, the cotton used in that item has been grown and exported consciously.
Fair Wear Foundation
Fair Wear Foundation is a Europe-based certification which focuses on ensuring a good standard for garment workers, particularly those working in the sewing process. Working with governments, brands, consumers and NGOs they have created these standards based off the UN declaration of human rights. In order to get this certification, brands much ensure there is no child labour and their workers are working in fair conditions, with a living wage and reasonable working hours.
Certified B Corporation
One of the most trusted ethical certifications. It is used in over 70 countries by over 3,000 brands. A business labelled as a Certified B Corporation means it has been recognised to be playing a part in driving change towards a more sustainable economy. Companies need to meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
The Global Organic Textiles Standard (GOTS) focuses on items made from organic fibres. The certification ensures the whole supply chain meets the social and environmental standards GOTS have set, from the labour to the chemicals used and wastewater. The textiles must also contain a minimum of 70% organic fibres.
Carbon neutrality is achieved by calculating the carbon footprint of a company and reducing it to zero through a combination of efficiency measures in-house and supporting external emission reduction projects. The Carbon Neutral certification gives businesses a rigorous and transparent framework to deliver carbon neutrality for their business, products and/or activities.
Fair Trade advocates for ensuring safe working conditions, living wages and protection of rights particularly for farmers and working communities around the world. They work closely with people throughout the whole supply chain. An item with the Fair Trade certification are supporting the lives and rights of these workers and the item will have been made with rigorous social, environmental and economical standards.
1% For The Planet
Members who join 1% For The Planet commit to donating 1% of gross sales to environmental non-profits. This is done monetarily and through approved promotional support. They believe the companies who profit from the resources they take from the earth, should protect those resources as well.
A few brands who have one or more these certifications include Patagonia, Veja, Allbirds, Organic Basics, MUD Jeans & TOMs. And there you have it – 7 ethical fashion certifications to help you avoid being greenwashed and shop more confidently.