What to look for when buying organic

Navigating the jungle of Eco, Oeko Tex, Bio, Organic or simply uncertified statements of being organic is a challenge for most of us.

We all want to provide the best for our children and wrap them in organic and pure fabrics.

So how do you know if you’ve got your hands on the good stuff?

folded organic merino fabric

How do I know that it's organic?

While buying organic clothes, one thing to look for is whether it is certified by an industry standard body. You may for instance have heard of GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard). GOTS certification is specifically intended for textiles and not other organic products.

Europe, The States, Canada and many countries in general have their own organic certification. In New Zealand the largest and best-known certification is BioGro. While it’s so incredibly trusted down-under it may not be known to someone from the Northern Hemisphere.

Unfortunately, most products claiming to be organic don’t seem to have any form of industry standard certification. When you pay premium price for a product, it is important to check the validity of the claim by asking for certification. 

organic merino softness

What do I need to look out for when buying organic and/or sustainable clothing:

  • If you’re buying organic overseas and not familiar with that country’s certification you can look at its accreditations. That means if it’s checked against other known organic certification standards. For example, if it’s accredited by the EU organic certification that means it ticks all the boxes set out by the EU.
  • Unlike food, textile products don’t have to be certified in order to be described as organic. A product claiming to be organic might only contain a small percentage of, for instance, organic cotton, or may be made of organic cotton but dyed using toxic chemicals which would never be allowed in certified organic products. Again, look out for the certification.
  • Fairtrade is not organic. Fairtrade farmes from developing countries receive a premium price for the products to ensure good working conditions and pay for the workers and to fund community development, such as building schools and drilling wells. So if you really want to master sustainability the “platinum standard” is certified organic and Fairtrade together.
  • Oeko-Tex is not organic either and chemicals and pesticides are allowed. It’s a great validation though of the processes textiles go through at any stage from its raw format to finished textile. It sets high criteria for testing and strict limit values of for instance chemicals involved in the process. BUT read the fine prints! Chemicals such as the dangerous Formaldehyde is still allowed. So either look for Oeko-Tex Class 1 (this is baby wear, and no formaldehyde is allowed) or for specific instructions that the fabric is being processed without formaldehyde.
  • Sustainable new textiles such as bamboo may not be all that great. It grows quickly so it’s easy to plant and grow more, that’s the good news.
    Getting the thick grass into a fabric is where the chemicals are involved. The most popular method is where bamboo gets turned into rayon through a highly intensive chemical process. This is the viscose process. About 50% of hazardous waste from rayon production (including the bamboo variety) cannot be recaptured and reused and goes directly into the environment. So this is where it may not be so organic and sustainable after all. And the outcome debates if bamboo is natural or synthetic. There’s a lot of debate on the pros and cons of bamboo, and even suggestions that the bad-mouthing of bamboo is a conspiracy by the cotton industry.

What do you think? Know of any brands using sustainable bamboo fabrics? Let us know in the comments below!

all weather merino

Other tips:

 

You can take sustainability one step further when you look for baby clothing

There are other ways to ensure that you are making sustainable choices when it comes to your baby's clothing. These include:

  • Using hand-me-downs:You can't get much greener than recycling clothing, passing your favourite items down to the next child or neighbours. Luckily, organic merino is extremely durable and will last years if the proper caring instructions are followed.  
  • Knowing where the clothes come from: Just like buying local food from a local farmer, when buying organic, you need to ask questions about dyes used, where the fabric was sourced, and how the raw materials were grown. At Roots & Wings Merino, we are 100% transparent about our process, which means that you can feel certain that you are investing in quality organic garments.

 Organic merino clothing 

Roots & Wings' merino is sourced from certified organic New Zealand farms, where the merino sheep roam free, doing what sheep do, thinking sheepy thoughts and enjoying their life in paradise.

Once a year, they are happy to have their heavy fleeces shorn. And every year, they grow it back again - luckily for all of us.

What this means to you, is a more pure and better looking garment. Less dye is needed for the naturally white fibres to take in colour and less pilling as the fibres are long and strong.

As newborn skin is extremely soft and porous, the probability of chemicals getting into their skin is high. Pure and natural organic merino is therefore a safe and better choice for baby. 

 

Do you have any tips for shopping organic?