NADS Blogman checking in, with your quote of the day:
“Our vision is that organic textiles will become a significant part of everyday life, enhancing people's lives and the environment.” – Vision Statement, GOTS
That’s quite the vision, seeing as how the organic textile industry was a niche market by the turn of the 21st century, but has completely blown up and is only expected to grow from here.
How did the industry go from an obscure market that few notable companies were interested in, to an almost 7000 Million Dollar (USD) industry in 2022 that will continue to experience a 40% revenue growth rate till 2032?
The answer is the Global Organic Textile Standard–or GOTS for short.
Let’s talk about GOTS, and how it benefits you; the consumer looking to up your health game (which you can start doing right here).
A bit of background:
During a workshop at the Intercot Conference 2002 in Dusseldorf, Germany, the need for a uniform organic textile standard was discussed. There were already certifications and standards in place, but they varied from country to country. This was an obstacle to international trade: one country’s standard might not be recognized by another, etc. The goal of the workshop was to create a single, uniform standard that would be recognized across the globe, and streamline international trade in the small industry of organic textiles. The outcome of that workshop was an effort to harmonize existing certifications, as well as create a new global standard. Four years of negotiations later, GOTS was officially established in 2006, the first certification was completed, and the organic textile game was forever changed–for the better.
GOTS is an independent, self-financed NPO (non-profit organization). GOTS takes a dynamic approach to the organic textile industry, is designed to regulate the entire supply chain, from both the ecological and social angles of production, and is supported by independent, third party verification. The organization promotes organic fiber farming systems that maintain and replenish soil fertility, avoid the use of toxic pesticides and fertilizers, incorporates welfare standards for animal husbandry, and prohibits the use of GMOs (genetically modified organisms.) GOTS also sets requirements for worker & social conditions that are in line with the big international human rights and labor organizations, that must be adhered to to achieve the GOTS certification (something that sets GOTS apart from another big “organic certification” process; the USDA). It’s comprehensive, it’s thorough from start to finish, and it’s updated and modified every three years to adapt to changing circumstances in the effort to improve its efficacy and feasibility (current standard: Version 7.0).
Over the course of the last two decades, GOTS has progressively replaced all pre-existing “standards” that regulate the organic textile supply chain–including those of the institutions who drafted GOTS to begin with. Over time, the International Working Group rendered these prior standards obsolete and elevated the GOTS certification to the sole standard that must be adhered to by all manufacturers of organic textiles. By 2014, both consumers and retailers recognized GOTS as the leading global standard of sustainability in organic textiles, one that meets both ecological and social criteria. With this uniform certification in place, processors, manufacturers, and trading companies became equipped to begin expanding this market out of “niche” and into the mainstream.
In order to hold the label “GOTS Certified,” a company (and also the various certification bodies spread out across the globe) must adhere to all GOTS standards, permanently. This is part of a rigorous system of checks and balances built into the certification process. If a company fails to meet any requirement, penalties may be imposed; they risk their certification being revoked; and they’re required by law to notify their customer-base of any suspensions on their certification.
Obviously, GOTS isn’t messing around, and continues to develop and progress in the effort to regulate the organic textile trade for the benefit of all parties involved, from worker to consumer. Recently, GOTS has expanded monitoring capabilities to include satellite imagery and AI technology in order to more closely monitor organic textile farms on the surface of the planet, continuing to raise bar.
While GOTS clearly sets the bar for the organic textile industry, there are in fact companies looking to cash in on the “organic craze,” or the broader green marketing trend (a trend that seeks to market actual organic products). This has led to a phenomenon known as greenwashing, in which a company makes misleading claims that imply their products are eco-friendly, when in fact they are not. You’ve probably seen the labels: “Eco-Friendly,” “All-Natural,” “Organic” that will make you think that you’re helping the environment (and your own body), but think again. The EU recently estimated that 42% of “green” claims are exaggerated, and this article highlights the difference between the marketing term “green” and a company’s overall “net green” impact on both the consumer and the environment.
And so, the irony of the high standard that GOTS has set is that while they’ve cleared the way for the market to push into a more sustainable future that benefits the health of the individual and the planet, it has unintentionally paved the way for less-than-ethical companies that are trying to cash in on the market trend. While this is unfortunate, it highlights the key role GOTS plays in not just the organic textile industry, but in the organic industry at large, as it sets the bar high for other industries looking to go green. Never one to back down from a challenge, GOTS itself is actually leading the way in the fight against greenwashing–check out the teaser for their new film, Faces from Field to Fashion, which is a part of their anti-greenwashing campaign that goes “behind the scenes” into the stories of the workers whose lives have been positively impacted by GOTS.
As the demand increases for products that embody a more sustainable way of living, GOTS is paving the road and leading the charge. Every single company involved in the production of a GOTS-certified item must be certified, meaning that products are made in safe and fair working conditions, workers themselves are treated with respect and dignity, and resources are farmed efficiently, responsibly, and sustainably. The result is organic products that arrive to the consumer with clearly traceable histories of ethical standards and absolutely no toxic chemicals involved. In addition to the high product standards, companies themselves benefit from GOTS in a number of ways: high credibility, effective risk management strategies, higher likelihood of investment capital, and higher market demand/opportunity.
GOTS will continue to be a game changer not only in the organic textile industry, but in the organic market as a whole. With resounding success in textiles, they have set the bar high for other industries looking to develop green products and market them to an increasingly sustainability-conscious consumer base. It’s the premier gold standard and you can be proud to sport a “GOTS Certified” logo/message on your clothing whenever worn. We’re certainly proud to be providing you with the opportunity.
Till next week, fellas.
NADS Blogman, signing off.