Manufacturers and retailers are eager for guidance about what constitutes “green,” according to the International Oeko-Tex Association, which led an interactive session on the issue at the Lenzing Innovation Authentic Green symposium at TexWorld USA in New York in January.
“Textile ecology is a complex equation which makes the term ‘green’ difficult to define,” says Dina Dunn, who addressed the audience on behalf of Oeko-Tex. “It was quite clear during the conference that apparel and home textile companies are struggling to define their own ‘green’ path.”
Dunn says part of the problem is that other industries have used “green” terms carelessly. “Consumers are challenging superficial ‘green’ claims and asking tough questions,” she says. “Companies that can’t respond effectively risk losing the trust of their customer base.”
Oeko-Tex, Zurich, Switzerland, evaluates textiles on the human ecology level as well as from the environmental ecology point of view. The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certification tests textiles for substances that are harmful to humans, both the employees who make them and the consumers who use them. The Oeko-Tex Standard 1000 is a testing, auditing, and certification system for environmentally friendly textile production sites throughout the supply chain.
The best approach to developing an effective green business plan, according to Oeko-Tex, requires three initial steps:
1. Define what ‘green’ means for your company. Are you referring to your manufacturing process, your raw material selection, your recycling program, or your packaging choices? Look at your entire business model and supply chain to find meaningful opportunities for ecological improvements.
2. Get certified by an independent, international, third-party endorser. Independent certification provides reassurance that you meet established industry standards in addition to your own internal standards. An international perspective is critical, specifically for the apparel and textile community, so choose a certification standard that reflects a global understanding of regulations, laws, international requirements and so forth.
3. Be transparent with customers and consumers. Consumers understand that “green” is a complex balance of choices, and they appreciate companies that give them the information they require to make the selections that are right for them.
For more information, visit www.oeko-tex.com.