At The Sustainable Angle we spend much of our time researching how fashion’s environmental impact can be lowered through textile innovation, and novel ideas to transform the fashion system and design practice. Certifications and standards play a hugely important part in the monitoring and transparency of these innovations and textile practices. Today we are continuing our questions with Christopher Stopes the UK Representative for The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). You will find hundreds of GOTS certified fabrics in the Future Fabrics Expo 25-26th January in London, as well as a preview of a selection of these fabrics in our Future Fabrics Virtual expo available 24hrs online here. If you missed Part 1 you can catch up here
TSA: In debates about more sustainable fibres, cotton is often considered as too ‘thirsty’ and therefore not a viable option for a future with low water tables. Would you say organic cotton is a viable option, though?
GOTS: Organic cotton uses less water, so it is an obvious choice if you want to be more sustainable. According to a report from MADE-BY for UK government, “Organic cotton production can reduce the toxicity, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions of growing cotton and has the potential to deliver added social benefits”. Buying organic cotton has been calculated by the Swiss organisation Helvetas to cut CO2 emissions by 18% when compared with buying conventional.
TSA: As the world’s leading standard for organic textile processing, what is GOTS’ biggest challenge moving forward?
GOTS: Making sure that the fashion industry cleans up its act through taking on board high standards, such as GOTS, that cover the whole supply chain and are independently certified. We want to make sure that the textile sector (fashion and apparel, work wear and personal care) provides a truly sustainable organic option, using organic approved processing and organically produced fibres. We are not only talking about organic cotton, but organic wool, linen and other organic fibres too.
TSA: Today the fashion industry is said to be the second most polluting industry in the world, next to the oil industry. What do you think are currently the most pressing environmental and social challenges in the fashion and textile industry?
GOTS: There is an urgent need to work to stop the appalling social conditions in the industry, one that depends too much on child labour, modern slavery, in unsafe buildings and bad working conditions. We see the consumption of cheap clothes on the backs of many people! And there are huge challenges from the highly polluting textile processing plants. GOTS places tight requirements on the permitted chemicals (GOTS exceeds the Greenpeace Detox requirements) and it is mandatory for GOTS certified textile wet-processing plants to have a working water treatment plant.
TSA: Where do you see the most potential for change in the fashion industry?
GOTS: Changing consumption patterns, caring for our clothes and making them from high quality organic fibres, in socially and ecologically sustainable value chains. That’s what GOTS is about! And it requires independent third party inspection and certification – so it overcomes one of the huge problems in the fashion industry – greenwash!
TSA: How do you think initiatives like the Future Fabrics Expo can help organisations such as yours?
GOTS: The Sustainable Angle and Future Fabrics Expo help spread the word and that means we can work better together and so help make a difference in the fashion industry!
TSA: How can industry professionals and consumers get involved and engage with the work GOTS do?
GOTS: Look at our GOTS simple show video to find out more about GOTS. Remember that there are important differences between organic and conventional cotton production and processing. Find out more about GOTS certification through the GOTS website.