Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Labeling of Organic Textiles

Are organic labels on textiles green washing or not? It turns out they're legit and fairly regulated in the US, here's the facts:
According to the National Organic Program (NOP) regulations, USDA regulates the term “organic” as it applies to agricultural products through 7 CFR Part 205. The regulation covers the raw natural fibers (such as cotton, wool, flax, etc.), as being agricultural products covered under the NOP crop/livestock production standards. Therefore, the off-farm treatment of raw organic fibers is not covered under the NOP crop/livestock production standards. Although the NOP has no specific fiber or textile processing and manufacturing standards, it may be possible for fibers grown and certified to NOP crop/livestock standards to be processed and manufactured into textile and other products which meet NOP standards.

Only textile products certified to the NOP production and processing standards are eligible to be labeled “100 percent organic” and “organic.

So what's in a name? There are three main categories:

100 percent Organic

  • 100 percent organic fiber content.
  • Only organic processing aids.
  • USDA Organic seal may be displayed on final product, in marketing materials, and in retail displays—in proximity to certified products only.
  • All operations producing, handling, processing and manufacturing the final product must be certified.

Organic

  • Minimum of 95 percent organic fiber content.
  • 5 percent non-organic substances, as listed in Section 205.605 of the NOP regulation.
  • No non-organic fibers.
  • USDA Organic seal may be displayed on final product, in marketing materials, and in retail displays—in proximity to certified products only.
  • All operations producing, handling, processing, and manufacturing the final product must be certified.

Made with Organic Ingredients

  • Must contain a minimum of 70 percent organic fibers. However, all fibers identified in these textile products as “organic” must be produced and certified to NOP standards.
  • May identify specific fibers as being organic if certified to the NOP crop/livestock standards.
  • May state the percentage of organic fibers contained in the final product.
  • May not use the USDA Organic seal.
  • May not imply or lead the consumer to believe that the final product is certified organic.

What Organic Means?

Organic fibers (cotton, hemp and linen) are grown without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides or fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation or genetic engineering, and are certified by an accredited independent organization. Strict laws and regulations are enforced by US Department of Agriculture and have been in place since 2002.
Organic wool
must be produced in accordance with federal standards for organic livestock production and this include:livestock feed and forage used from the last third of gestation must be certified organic; use of synthetic hormones and genetic engineering is prohibited; use of synthetic pesticides is prohibited; and producers must encourage livestock health through good cultural and management practices.
Organic leather
means that the hides used are from animals that are organically fed and humanely raised, and the tanning process uses plant tannins, vegetable tannins or smoke to cure the leather. This means that there is zero toxicity from the run at the tanning facilities.

Some brands and designers that are using organic fiber, wool and leather are:

C&A (Europe) Disney Nordstrom Gaiam Hanna Andersson
Hess Natur (Germany) Nike Macys IKEA Indigenous Designs
Howie's (U.K.) American Apparel REI Gap, Inc. Linda Loudermilk
People Tree (U.K.) Patagonia H&M Eileen Fisher Bloomingdales
Monoprix (France) Marks & Spencer (Europe) Levi Strauss Diane von Furstenberg and many more....

3 comments:

LIKAS said...

Great information! So glad that I found your blog. May I post this info on my blog? (citing your name of course)

Lucia said...

Hi Likas,

thanks for visiting my blog. I am so glad you like it. Unfortunately lately I could not find much time to publish new content - it is the flu and colds season :-(. Please, feel free to use the information from the blog!

Thanks, Lucia

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