What is the Soil Association? What does Fairtrade mean?
So you’re buying organic baby clothes, you’re trying to practise sustainable parenting, you buy cloth nappies. But do you actually know what the different key certifications/bodies related to organic clothing are? GOTS, Soil Association, OECO TEX, Fairtrade? What do they all mean?
Once upon a time, people just used to use the word ‘organic’ but now there seem to be acronyms galore and yes, it is worth knowing what they all mean.
Soil Association Certification
The organic cotton baby leggings you bought last week, have a label which says they are ‘Soil Association’ certified. What exactly does that mean then?
Soil Association Certification just happens to be The UK’s biggest organic certification body and believe it or not, it is directly responsible for certifying over 70% of all the organic products sold in The UK. And they don’t just certify organic clothes and textiles either. You may have already noticed that the nappy rash cream you’re using on your baby is also Soil Association certified.
The Soil Association is actually a charity which campaigns for humane and sustainable food, farming and land use and has been working on organic textiles for more than 10 years. They played a huge role in the development of the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)..
What is GOTS?
GOTS is the sole organic textile processing standard which is recognised throughout the world. It ensures and guarantees integrity at every step of the supply chain. If you see GOTS on a clothes label then you know that the product is environmentally compliant as well as socially. The fibres will be organically grown, the processing will be eco-friendly and throughout the whole manufacturing process, the company has remained socially responsible.
What is Fairtrade?
Then there’s Fairtrade. This is probably the label and logo we come upon most when looking for organic baby clothes. Choosing Fairtrade cotton baby clothes will ensure that the farmers involved in the production get a better deal. Fairtrade work with disadvantaged farmers and workers to promote fairer trading conditions and opportunities. They empower the cotton producers to help them fight poverty and strengthen their trading position. Fairtrade also protect workers’ rights and the environment.
Fairtrade, like The Soil Association, certifies products and ingredients. When all the ingredients in a product that possibly can be Fairtrade are so, then the product will carry the Fairtrade logo.
OEKO TEX certification is much less well-known than the others above. In a nutshell though, their certification includes testing for an extremely long list of chemicals, toxins, phthalates and pesticides. Products certified by OEKO TEX will have been tested for allergy-inducing dyes and chlorinated phenols amongst other things. This particular certification doesn’t mean a product is organic, although some of them are obviously. What it does mean though is that the product is free of harmful substances..
So there you are then! Those labels on your organic baby clothes all mean something a little bit different and now you at least have some idea what they mean.
by Kathryn Crawford, parenting writer
Founder of MrandMrs50Plus.com