Is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) Certification Reliable?

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Living in an era where health is a more central topic than it ever has been before is a double-sided coin. On one hand, it’s great that so many have finally started making their mind, body, and spirit a priority. On the other hand, there are those looking to take advantage of this trend through a practice known as  greenwashing. It’s more important than ever that consumers are knowledgeable about the goods they purchase and interact with on a daily basis. When it comes to knowing the source of the clothing you wear, you can feel confident about Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification.

What is the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)?

Figure 1: Look for the GOTS logo on the apparel you wear. 

Specifically geared towards the textile industry, GOTS is the world’s leading textile processing standard that ensures, verifies, and certifies organic fibers used in apparel and textile manufacturing. Organic standardizations for the textile industry are especially important because, according to Grand View Research, the global textile market was valued at a whopping $993.6 billion in 2021. Consumers should choose clothing made of organic materials to support the environment. As a subset of the textile market, the fashion industry is currently responsible for 10% of the planet’s carbon emissions. 85% of textiles go into landfills every year and most clothing nowadays is made with synthetic fabrics that don’t break down the way organic fibers do. In a landfill, it takes cotton 5 months to decompose whereas it can take 20-200 years for polyester to degrade.

GOTS’ vision is for organic textiles to become a significant part of everyday life in hopes that it will enhance the lives of people and the environment. Additionally, GOTS understands that to accomplish accessibility around organic fashion focus must be paid to organic farming practices. Any item with a GOTS label (Figure 1) must be made of at least 70% of organic fibers. Items with fully organic labels are made out of 95% organic materials. GOTS utilizes a fortified network of partnerships to ensure their standard from production to certification:

  • GOTS uses IFOAM’s Organic Guarantee System to ensure organic production methods. The IFOAM family of standards (Figure 2) has their own accreditation system that relies on local private and government regulations to endorse fully organic goods.
  • GOTS also works with the Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) and the Textile Exchange (TE) to ensure organic cotton is in accordance with ISO IWA 32:2019 protocol for GMO presence.

IFOAM's Family of Standards

GOTS vs USDA Organic Certification

In addition to the organic guarantee that comes with GOTS certification, the other significant benefit is the social and ecological assurance that comes from GOTS labeled items. Unlike USDA certified organic products, GOTS is dedicated to upholding and improving worker conditions. While the USDA provides guidelines regarding pesticides and chemicals used in organic production, there is nothing in their bylines regarding labor conditions and worker rights. When consumers purchase goods that have been GOTS certified, they’re ensuring:

  • Worker employment has been freely chosen
  • Child labor has not been used
  • Collective bargaining and association allowance
  • Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) are upheld
  • No discrimination is practiced
  • Workers are free from harassment and violence

One would hope that the USDA certification would mean that worker rights are accounted for. Afterall, the virtue of less pesticides and chemicals used in organic practices might provide better base working conditions, but currently the USDA does not have standards in place to ensure the welfare of workers employed by farms. The GOTS label, on the other hand, means that all all processors, manufacturers and traders have met their strict social criteria.

How GOTS Certification Protects Consumers from Greenwashing

Greenwashing is the practice of falsifying eco-friendly messaging in hopes of making a profit. The International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN) found that in Europe, 42% of green claims were exaggerated, false, or deceptive. GOTS has been working against greenwashing for over 20 years. GOTS puts an end to greenwashing through its all stages processing system in which the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, trading and distribution of all textiles is verified and upheld to their strict social and organic standards. Consumers can protect themselves from greenwashing practices by purchasing GOTS labeled products.

Are you interested in making ethical clothing choices? Green Label Organic is proud to label all of their t-shirts and garments as GOTS certified. Our clothes are made from certified organic ring spun cotton and are colored with eco-friendly, low-impact dyes. Printed without the use of PVCs and harsh chemicals, our tees are super soft, pre shrunk, and make statements about the issues you care about. To view our wide selection of t-shirts with a point of view, visit today!

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  • GOTS
  • Greenwashing
  • Organic Certification
  • USDA
  • Worker Rights