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Ethical & Sustainable Terminology

Posted by Laura Hart on

Ethical & Sustainable Terminology

My foray into the world of eco-friendly, ethical manufacture is a relatively new one. It’s not that I wasn't aware of the terminology before, but I did not really fully understand what each one meant. Since starting the company two years ago, I have encountered lots more new terminology,  so I’ve listed some of the most common ones, in the hope it can be a useful guide for anyone interested about these issues, or like me, who needs a reminder every now and again! 

Organic

Organic clothing is made from raw materials that do not use pesticides or other harmful chemicals. There are agricultural standards that must be met in order for the material to be certified organic. 

Eco-friendly

This term is used to describe fabrics that are manufactured using sustainable farming, land management and animal welfare practices.  A minimum amount of pesticides and chemicals are used in the production. 

Vegan

No animal products or by-products can be used in the manufacture of vegan materials. For example, silk, hair/fur, wool and feathers could not be used as they are all fibres that come from animals.

Cruelty Free

This term relates to animal welfare and whether any creature was harmed in the manufacture of the garment and to indicate that no animal by-products were used (In cosmetics, it means that the product wasn’t tested on animals).

Oeko-Tex Certified

If you come across a product that states it is Oeko-Tex certified then that means it contains no harmful chemicals.

GOTS Certified

GOTS - Global Organic Textile Standard, is  globally recognised textile standard. It ensures that the organic status of the material is maintained from harvesting the raw fibres all the way through to manufacture, packaging and distribution.

                                                           Photo by Priscilla du Preez on Unsplash

Up-cycled

Reusing and repurposing old items into something new, usually resulting in a higher quality or value than the original item. A good example of up-cyling is taking 2nd hand store items and turning them into new garments or products. Up-cyccling is a great way of keeping textiles out of landfill. 

Biodegradable 

When products are biodegradable it means that they don’t cause any harm once they break down in the environment. All materials will decompose but some,  like plastics, can take hundreds sometimes thousands of years, which is not good for our wee planet!

Sustainable Fashion

This term refers to the fashion system - from the design, manufacture and consumption of clothes around the planet. Emphasis is on the ecological and social impact and trying to minimise the environmental impact of the industry.

Ethical Fashion

Slightly different to sustainable,  ethical manufacture is more concerned with the social side of the industry. Health and safety, living wages, child/forced labour and working conditions are just some of the biggest issues that come under ethical fashion. 

Fast Fashion

This term refers to clothing made quickly and cheaply, usually in poor working conditions. Not ethical, not sustainable, not good.

Slow Fashion

The encouragement of buying less, and if buying something new, spending a bit more money so it will likely last longer. A lot of people have taken to sewing their own me-made wardrobes and up-cycling 2nd hand items in a bit to combat fast fashion. Following trends is not important,  with the emphasis on creating a stylish, long term wardrobe.

Circular Fashion

This term was definitely one I had never heard of before. It refers to a cycle within the fashion industry whereby waste material gets designed out, products are kept in use through reusing and recycling (for as long as possible) and then the products are disposed of in a way that regenerates the natural systems.

Zero Waste

In fashion, zero waste refers to an item that generates little to no fabric or textile waste during production. 


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