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our sustainability guide

Sustainability in fashion is a highly complex issue with socioeconomic and environmental aspects as well as the consideration of animal rights. There are hundreds of different certificates individually covering each of these areas. The BLUE SIGN measures the ecological sustainability (use of chemicals) whilst FAIR TRADE focuses on developing small-scale producers (working conditions). It is rare for one certificate to cover multiple aspects but the closest to blanket certification for the integrity of sustainable textiles comes from the global organic textile standard certification (GOTS). GOTS independently rates working conditions and  examines all materials and chemicals to verify the organic origin of the fiber.

We all are responsible for doing the best we can to achieve the highest standard possible in all 3 categories: working conditions, materials used and chemicals involved. Small companies have limited choices due to the high minimum purchase on fibers, fabrics and accessories and also face the problem, that the fashion industry often cannot offer a sustainable version of the fabric or accessory needed. Therefore we often have to develop fabrics from scratch to make sure all ingredients are sustainable to the core. This is a highly challenging but exciting task at the same time.

Sustainability starts with the cultivation of the raw material and production of the fabric, continues with the manufacturing process and distribution and ends with you, the consumer: are you consuming consciously? How long do you use your clothes? Do you repair what is broken or just replace it? There are so many aspects to sustainability and some are easier to implement than others but we all have a voice that can make a great difference.

We develop our fabrics in close cooperation with our suppliers to ensure a sustainable product from scratch. It is not always easy to judge what is and what isn’t sustainable. Sadly, a lot of greenwashing takes place in the fashion industry, but the more you know, the better you can evaluate and decide what you want to consume and therefore be the change you want to see in the world! 

We have developed a simple color system for navigation on fabrics and certificates from our perspective. Our aim is to support you on this journey with this guide, which makes no claim to be complete but shall offer you orientation.

FABRICS


Certified Linen, made from flax fibers, is very attractive in hot weather since it has cooling qualities and dries quickly. It is also one of the most expensive natural fibers due to the time and resource-intensive process of production. Certified organic, the flax is usually water-retted or retted on ground, which means no chemicals are used in the production process. It is biodegradable and if linen is cultivated in accordance with proper care of the land, it is not harmful to the environment. The greatest advantage of flax over cotton is probably its resilience, it can grow in cooler areas, on poor soil and only requires small amounts of water. We would classify it GREEN - very sustainable.

Linen, even if not certified, has a relatively low impact on the environment but the chemicals (sulfuric acid, caustic soda or chlorinated lime) used to get rid of the plant’s pectin do create sewerage and pollution. We would classify it GREEN-ORANGE - relatively sustainable.

Bamboo linen is an organic fiber. Bamboo can grow easily in nearly every climate. It is silk-like and can be created with a closed-loop production process resulting in a fabric that can be considered purely organic and is not harmful to the environment. Important here is to get bamboo fabric that is mechanically (instead of chemically) treated. We would classify it GREEN - very sustainable.

Pros/Cons Linen 

This natural fiber is biodegradable, needs much less water compared to cotton, is breathable, sturdy, light weight, absorbent, antibacterial and cooling. But it also wrinkles a lot and needs sensitive care.


Organic Cotton, growing organic cotton avoids using synthetic herbicides, pesticides and artificial fertilizers. It follows the rules of ecological farming that are controlled and certified by independent organizations. Usually harvested by hand, it provides a higher quality than regular cotton. Organic cotton cultivators must promote sustainability within the communities where they operate, workers who produce organic cotton must be compensated fairly, and environmental degradation must be kept to a minimum.  Certain kinds of cotton, such as Supima cotton, are only available in organic forms. Cotton is biodegradable but needs more water to grow than any other textile fiber (in areas where water is scare) but is still a good choice if certified organic. We would classify it GREEN - sustainable. 

Cotton has all the positive characteristics of organic cotton but it is produced under inhumane and, in our personal opinion, criminal conditions. The toxic waste produced can lead to infertility, desertion and sickness affecting both the land and the people farming it. Also the vast amount of water needed in areas where water is scarce leads to unimaginable destruction. You can find a number of documentaries on this topic online. However it still comes from a natural renewable source and is biodegradable, which is why we would classify it RED-ORANGE - medium sustainable.

Pros/Cons Cotton 

Cotton is a natural and biodegradable fiber, it’s very soft and breathable, machine washing is no problem and it’s absorbent and suitable for sensitive skin. It needs a lot of water to produce cotton, experts assume an average of 11.000 liters per kg cotton and the pesticides used make 25% of all pesticides used globally  (source: fairlis.de). Beside that, it is prone to shrinking.


LENZING™ ECOVERO™ is a very eco friendly version of Rayon and Viscose, derived from certified (FSC, PEFC) renewable wood sources, lowering the emissions and water impact by 50% (calculated using the HIGGS Index, tools provided by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition). The entire production process offers absolute transparency in the supply chain. Fibers used for ECOVERO™ have been certified with the EU Ecolabel as they consistently meet high environmental standards throughout their life cycle. We would classify it GREEN - sustainable.

LENZING™ TENCEL™, cellulosic fibers are also of botanic origin derived from sustainable wood sources. The fiber production process is a closed loop reusing and recycling the solvent at a recovery rate of more than 99%. The fiber is biodegradable and, if not dyed, would even be compostable. Lenzing is solely using wood that is PEFC certified. The closed-loop solvent system, ensures that no solvent is wasted or dumped into the ecosystem and therefore produces little to no toxic waste. We would classify it GREEN - very sustainable.

Viscose, has a soft touch, is absorbent and anti-static which makes it a comfortable choice for summer items. It does have the tendency to shrink though and pilling is another issue. Even though its base material is cellulosic fiber, the chemicals used for the viscose process (carbon disulfide and caustic soda) mark it as a semi-synthetic fiber. Yes, it is based on renewable primary products but the process needs lots of energy and generates huge amounts of toxic waste. We would classify it RED-ORANGE - medium low sustainability.

Cupro, also known as Bemberg™ (which is a manufactured by Asahi Kasei from Japan), is made from natural materials. It is basically regenerated cellulose fiber made from cotton linter or cotton waste. It is chemically transformed into synthetic fiber (as a recycled fiber it is partially sustainable and needs little water for production which is a crucial point we all must consider for the future of our planet) but the chemicals necessary for production are highly toxic. It is supposed to be a 99% closed loop process with Bemberg™, but we have no proof of this. If made in a factory using a closed loop production cycle, the environmental impact would be significantly decreased and we could classify it green. The fabric itself is completely biodegradable. We would classify it GREEN-ORANGE - sustainable.


Polyester, oil based synthetic fiber. Not biodegradable at all. It lasts forever and is usually easy to handle, doesn’t change over time and needs just a little steam to get back in shape. It sure has some nice benefits but since it is oil based and stays with us forever,  just like any plastic bag. We would classify it RED - not sustainable.

Recycled Polyester, sometimes it makes sense to use recycled Polyester - for example for outdoor/sportswear and travel-wear. It is very durable and weatherproof, can be spun ultra-fine (about 3 times thinner than silk). It does not absorb water which is why it stays dry and dries quickly if wet, it’s more or less wrinkle free and very easy to handle in general. But still, it is not biodegradable and it does release micro plastic into the water with every wash. Polyester is recyclable but not biodegradable. We would classify it RED-ORANGE - medium low sustainability.

Leather tends to be a byproduct of the meat industry. It is a very durable and long lasting material that ages beautifully compared to any vegan alternatives that usually entail non-degradable plastic waste when the bag/belt/shoe has reached the end of its lifespan. All our leather products are vegetable-tanned leather, that undergo a tightly controlled process that utilizes tree bark and other natural tannins. If truly coming from the meat industry and tanned naturally. We would classify it GREEN - sustainable.

CERTIFICATES

Certificates and fabrics are very well described in detail on following pages: 

OEKOTEX100 

GOTS
The aim of the standard is to define world-wide recognized requirements that ensure the organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer. Textile processors and manufacturers are enabled to export their organic fabrics and garments with one certification accepted in all major markets.

CRADLE TO CRADLE

GLOBAL RECYCLE STANDARD

BLUE SIGN
Is a certificate that ensures the chemical safety in textile production

IVN - Internationaler Verband der Naturtextilwirtschaft
Is a German equivalent to GOTS 

If there are still unanswered questions please don’t hesitate to contact us via email at support@webandits.eu