If there’s one thing that the sustainability industry loves to do it’s introduce standards and acronyms for those standards.
You’ll see GOTS written on a lot of packaging but what does that mean?
Is it a sign of manufacturers being environmentally and socially responsible?
Is GOTS certification a credible assurance that you’re buying something good for the planet?
Or is it a case of greenwashing?
What Is The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)?
GOTS stands for the Global Organic Textile Standard and it’s a form of organic certification that applies to the entire textile supply chain.
If a production process is GOTS certified, it means that it has certified organic fibers used throughout.
The GOTS global organic textile standard is recognized everywhere as a sign of organic fibres which are produced through organic agriculture. That is there are no chemicals used to treat the soil or used as pesticides.
It also means that harsh chemicals are not used to process the fibers into materials, this includes any dyes used.
It’s an independent certification awarded by a certified organic trade association that ensures that the standard means something in practice.
You can research whether a product or business has reached this standard at the Global Standard.org website.
What Does It Mean To Have GOTS Status? The Importance Of Raw Materials
The GOTS status means that someone has taken steps to ensure organic status of textiles in the product delivered to the end consumer.
A GOTS certified company uses only organic cotton and organic materials that meet certain ecological and social criteria laid down in the global standard.
It is the worldwide leading textile processing standard and textile processors generally aspire to achieve the high-level environmental criteria that these environmental standards set down.
What Is Socially Responsible Manufacturing?
Socially responsible manufacturing is a form of manufacturing that takes as much care of the people who make the products and the communities that the products enter into as the making of the products themselves.
A GOTS label is a very small part of this process. You would expect a socially responsible manufacturer to pay a living wage, to have reasonable working conditions, not to use child labor, and to ensure that they were trying to minimize the environmental impact of all their business processes.
It is important to note that while GOTS is not a form of greenwashing, in its own right, some companies might use it for greenwashing.
Hoping that the organic nature of their textiles distracts you from asking the hard questions about the final product and how it impacts on a wider range of issues than just the chemical content of the soil the plants are grown in or the environments the fibers are processed in.
Does GOTS Mean That A Company Has A Fully-Organic Status?
The GOTS standard relates to the material itself. So, for example, if a company uses GOTS certified organic cotton, then all their cotton is fully organic.
But this does not mean that the latex they use is (in fact, latex is monitored under a different standard from GOTS entirely – the GOLS standard), for example. You need to be very precise sometimes to work out what is included in a certification scheme and what is not.
You can be sure that the organic textiles that are referred to with the GOTS certification are free of chemical inputs, toxic heavy metals, etc. but not that every product that the company produces is.
Final Thoughts On GOTS
If you buy textile products then if they are GOTS certified you can be sure that the textiles adhere to organic manufacturing standards.
This certification, however, is not a comment on the overall environmental friendliness of a company nor does it ensure that every product they sell is made with organic materials.