Recently, the environmental problem has become more and more important and there is a general awareness that is gradually developing. Of course, we are delighted about that. However, as we have researched and published in various forms, we have found that some textile brands are either misinformed or use certain labels and concepts in the wrong way. It may not even be intentional, but it can confuse the consumer.
As you know, we have given ourselves the task of enlightening you on more conscious consumption patterns and today we want to shed light on the famous OEKO-TEX 100 Textile Standard, and we would like to point out that we are not here to “destroy” concepts, but simply to help you better understand some related information by giving factual information about these labels.
1. NO, OEKO-TEX 100 is NOT an eco-label
You have certainly already seen the OEKO-TEX logo on clothing or home textile, this logo certifies that the product and all its components (sewing thread, buttons, etc…) have been tested and are harmless to human health. It is a very good standard, of German origin and which is relatively reliable, even if only one or two batches are checked per year.
That being said, it obliges the brand to be responsible in the event of a health reaction from one of its user customers. So that’s a good thing!
However, we must not confuse everything and certainly not believe everything. As you have already been told in previous articles on other standards, as a consumer you must remain vigilant and ask brands what they do and what they say.
Why this confusion?
First of all its name: The German name OEKO (ECO) which suggests an environmental reference.
Whereas, OEKO-TEX is a health certification, not an ecological certification.
Its only link with the environment is that originally, the founders of certification thought that if products were harmless to humans, they should of course also be harmless to the environment. At that time, the environmental dimension was secondary. And we didn’t make the link between environment and health.
2. The textile industry is one of the most polluting in the world
Since then, studies of the environmental impacts of the textile sector have shown that it is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Since then, Oeko-Tex has added other more eco-friendly labels such as Made in Green, STeP,… But these labels are rarely used in the industry because there are already other environmental labels with higher standards and already recognized as the best in the world of eco-friendly textiles.
3. Some examples and figures related to conventional cotton sometimes certified OEKO-TEX 100
• Conventional cotton bed linen is highly polluting, as conventional cotton textiles are responsible for nearly 25% of pesticide use worldwide, not to mention chemical fertilizers, insecticides and defoliants;
• Conventional cotton is mostly GMO cotton, which disrupts the balance of biodiversity;
• Conventional cotton is the most water-intensive fibre in the world;
• Conventional cotton dyeing and finishing products are still sometimes dumped into rivers and groundwater in many textile-producing countries;
• Dyeing and printing products authorised on the European market still contain endocrine disrupters and substances suspected of being carcinogenic;
And all these examples can be certified Oeko-Tex 100.
So yes Oeko-Tex guarantees that the textile is harmless to human health (except for endocrine disrupters and certain substances known to be at risk for cancer, as they have not yet been proven by studies). But for the rest, Oeko-Tex does not guarantee that textiles are ecological or good for the environment.
And, unfortunately, the majority are not.
To learn more about the different types of cotton, read our article : why al cottons are not equal?
4. Certification obligations for cotton and brands
A brand that sells Oeko-Tex certified textile products and wishes to communicate this fact, has the obligation to be certified by Oeko-Tex itself, and not only to be able to confirm that its supplier is certified. When it is certified it then has its own certification number and traceability is possible on its supply chain.
If it doesn’t have this number, then it’s a bit like brands that use uncertified organic cotton…. Unfortunately, it’s a huge joke. It is a bit like taking the name, using everything it represents, but not following the procedures. And above all, so it is misleading consumers.
5. How do I know if a brand is Oeko-tex certified?
There are two ways to find out:
• Either verify that the brand communicates on Oeko-Tex by always using the official logo with its unique certification number and the name of its certifier. And so not only mention the name in a paragraph on its website for example. If it is certified, the brand will also most likely affix the Oeko-Tex logo with its number on the labels of its products.
• Or dare to ask the brand’s customer service department to send you a copy of its current certificate of conformity by e-mail with the list of its certified products (because also be careful, some brands only certify some of their products and not all). Only absolute guarantee.
If you do not find those elements, proof of the brand’s commitment to certification, it is because you are in the case of “Green Washing” Marketing, not to use a much more serious term.
6. Oeko-tex versus GOTS
Comparing Oeko-Tex and GOTS would be a bit like comparing non-organic red apples grown with a minimum of attention to human beings and local organic green apples that can only be consumed seasonally. They may look similar in form, but in substance, taste and impact are very different.
So, Oeko-Tex, for conventional cotton products it is better than nothing at all, but it can never be compared to GOTS certified organic textiles. Also read our article Why all cotton are not equal to learn more about organic cotton and the different certifications.
Kalani bed linen is not Oeko-Tex certified, because it is not a strict enough standard for us, our commitment to the environment and sustainable development on a larger scale and for you who trust us.
We have decided to certify all our GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) products because it is the only standard that guarantees the safety of human health, both for cotton farmers, production workers and users. And this, with a level of requirement well above Oeko-Tex. Moreover, it also ensures that cotton is grown organically and that all its processing and production is environmentally friendly, and that social standards have been monitored at all stages. It is therefore a complete certification that includes Health, Environment and Social criteria. What Oeko-Tex cannot claim.
Whether you are in a sustainable purchasing process, reducing your ecological footprint or looking for quality, softness, at an affordable price, we want the best and show off our expertise. Everyone is happy and this allows us to continue to develop our projects.
7. Oeko-tex 100, the minimum requirement for non-organic
In our opinion, Oeko-Tex 100 certification is the minimum requirement for a textile brand, but certainly not a guarantee of quality for the environment and sustainable development. It’s better than nothing, of course!
In conclusion, if you buy conventional cotton clothing or bed linen, prefer the one with the Oeko-Tex label, but if you want all the strictest health, environmental and social criteria to be respected then only organic GOTS certification can guarantee it.
If you have any questions on the subject, feel free to comment below. We will be happy to answer you.