I discovered a new brand of upholstered furniture this week that touted its eco and non-toxic attributes. These include Certi-Pur non-FR foam (about 90% petrochemical)and fabrics treated with Scotchgard (See the Environmental Working Group’s easy guide to toxicity at http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/5571-ScotchGardby3MFabricUpholsteryProtectorSpray) . I was flabbergasted that this company promoted these as non-toxic. The founder of the company doesn’t have a background in textiles or chemistry, so I immediately understood that she was only sharing what she was told. But, do we believe everything that we are told? I used to. The Gold standard for less toxic textiles is the Global Organic Textiles Standard GOTS). Conventionally processed textiles are loaded with heavy metals. Even if the fabrics are made from natural fibers, the entire process from growing the fibers, spinning the yarns, weaving the fabric, dyeing and finishing is nasty. I’d like to share this information that my diligent friends at Oecotextiles shared with us. Please do check out their beautiful collection of far less toxic home decorating fabrics. https://www.twosistersecotextiles.com/

You will not have to live with fabrics containing chemicals which have been proven to cause harm – chemicals which are often outlawed in other products – because the fabric is produced to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).

A fabric made from organic fibers is not necessarily an organic fabric. Why is this a big deal? It’s like taking organic apples, and cooking them with Red Dye #2, preservatives, emulsifiers, and stabilizers – you can’t call the finished product organic applesauce; and you should not feed it to your kids. Same is true with fabrics.

GOTS defines a standard for organic fabrics that covers every step of the complicated textile production process from field to finished fabric to store shelf; not just the fiber. GOTS is so comprehensive that it governs details such as packaging materials; warehouse cleaning chemicals; warehouse pest conrol practices and labels. GOTS covers workers rights; and, although it does not directly address carbon footprint, its other organic requirments mean that a GOTS fabric is by far the best choice you can make, regardless of country of production. GOTS certified fabric is therefore much more than just a textile which is made from organic fibers. It is an organic fabric.

The GOTS standard only applies to natural fibers, and requres the use of third party certifed organic fiber. (For synthetic fibers, use only Global Recycling Standard Gold level recylced polyester if you must; and some rare nylon. Read our blog – see link in the footer below, for updates or for more.)

In addition to requiring that all inputs have to meet basic requirements on toxicity and biodegradability, one of the important things that GOTS does is close a very common loophole with greenwashers. GOTS prohibits entire classes of chemicals, rather than calling out specific prohibited chemical in a class. What that means is that instead of prohibiting, for example lead and cadmium and therefore allowing other heavy metals by not prohibiting the entire class, GOTS prohibits ALL heavy metals. Here’s the GOTS Version 3.0 list:

Aromatic solvents Prohibited
Chlorophenols (such as TeCP, PCP) Prohibited
Complexing agents and surfactantss Prohibited are: All APEOS, EDTA,
Fluorocarbons Prohibited (i.e., PFOS, PFOA)
Halogenated solvents Prohibited
Heavy Metals Prohibited
Inputs containing functional nanoparticles Prohibited
Inputs with halogen containing compounds Prohibited
Organotin compounds Prohibited
Plasticizers (i.e., Phthalates, Bisphenol A
and all others with endocrine disrupting
Quaternary ammonium compounds Prohibited

Other GOTS strengths include:

Strict and extensive water treatment internally before water is discharged to the local ecosystem. Water treatment applies to pH and temperature as well as to biological and chemical residues in the water. Even if only salt is used in the fabric processing, returning salty water to the local lake will kill amphibians and wreck havoc with the local ecosystem.

Environmentally sound packaging requirements are in place: PVC in packaging is prohibited, paper must be post-consumer recycled or certified according to FSC or PEFC.

Labor practices are audited in accordance with the International Labor Organization (ILO) standards – no forced, bonded, or slave labor; workers have the right to join or form trade unions and to bargain collectively; working conditions are safe and hygienic; there must be no new recruitment of child labor; and for those companies where children are found to be working, provisions must be made to enable him/her to attend and remain in quality education until no longer a child; wages paid must meet, at a minimum, national legal standards or industry benchmarks, whichever is higher; working hours are not excessive and inhumane treatment is prohibited.