Ethical clothing certifications demystified


The textile industry is responsible for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions, hence wearing clothes that can cause potential damage to our surroundings and ecosystem is something we should be concerned about. Not just for our future but for the future mankind as the earth is a shared habitat. If you find these certifications in an outlet then give yourself a pat on the back because you are making the right choice.


If you ever buy a cotton t-shirt that carries a standard 100 tag it means that that shirt is an eco-friendly t-shirt. Basically STANDARD 100 certification means that nothing harmful to the human body or the human ecosystem went into the manufacturing of that article. From thread to every button any other accessory has been tested for harmful substances, and upon clearance has the company received this certification.

For this certification, everything is tested against the standard set up by OEKO-TX whose criteria catalog is updated every year.


Cradle to Cradle certification is a globally recognized certification that is only given out to companies, businesses, and brands that produce sustainable products for the circular economy. To understand this you can think of it like a lifecycle i.e. the products certified by Cradle to Cradle will be recycled after they have served their prime purpose. Focus is on organic health of garment’s material, production efficiency and social responsibility.

If you see a t-shirt with a Cradle to Cradle sign on it then it could only mean that you are making a move towards sustainability. It is an indication of ethical buying.


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic seal is used by brands that are using natural fibers instead of synthetic ones that are toxic and environmentally harmful. You can find this seal on eco-friendly t-shirts that have been produced by using raw material that was produced using cotton free from synthetic pesticides, GMOs and fertilizers.


Ethical manufacturing refers to the holistic process of creating goods without compromising on the health and safety of those involved as well as the environment. From production to the consumer, this certificate ensures that everyone involved was taken care of according to the set standard which includes:

  • Employees are treated with respect
  • Employees are paid a fair wage
  • Employees work for reasonable hours and upon their will.
  • Employees are provided with a safe working environment.

            Here are all the certificates that ensure the company you are purchasing from treats their employees well, and work responsibly.


The ethical trading initiative was launched after the neglect of International Labor Laws by the heavyweight global fashion industry in the 1990s. The prime mission of ETI is to protect workers’ rights in the global supply chain, according to the International Labor Organization. For companies that are a part of this initiative, it means that they are striving hard to make ethical improvements, though this is just the first step. H&M and Body Shop are already a part of this initiative.


Fair Trade Certification is awarded to products that are made under the right conditions with the right treatment of employees. Worker safety and fair pay is the prerequisite for this certificate. By this certification, you can identify brands and goods that do right by labor rights. This certification is given by the Fair Trade USA, a body that empowers and uplifts labor communities by ensuring they work in safe conditions while also conserving the environment they are working in.


This is like the ETI a membership that is granted to companies that working towards providing a safe working environment for their labor. Fairwear Foundation membership means a brand has followed the following steps that are based on the U.N Declaration on Human Rights:

Employment must be chosen freely, workers have a right to unionize, all employees have the right to equal opportunities, children under the age of 15 are not employed, collective bargaining, a living wage, a safe environment and regular employment with reasonable hours of work.

In short, it focuses on the physical factors pertaining to working conditions, along with human factors of production. Fairwear foundation is based in Europe.


Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production is a not for profit organization that promotes safe, lawful and human manufacturing of goods around the world. WRAP certification is like the other certification in this category is given to businesses and organizations that prove to serve their human capital with the best possible working conditions, while abiding by the standard operating procedures set by the ILO. WRAP principles are based on widely accepted international work standards and local laws that are a culmination of human resource management, health, safety and environmental practices along with legal compliance with respect to import, export and customs laws.


You might be surprised by this, but yes there is a whole process that goes into certifying companies that produce Vegan Friendly clothing. In fashion, vegan friendly means that the clothes, shoes and other fashion accessories were created from material that was not extracted from an animal. If it came from animal living or dead it cannot be called vegan. Below are the certifications that you will find on Vegan Friendly clothing:


PETA is a US based organization that advocates animal rights which provides certification to individual products and companies that contain no animal sourced or derived components – so leather, fur, wool, skin or exotic skin made goods get excluded in the very first go. Brands like Gunas, Matt & Nat, and Native Shoes are PETA approved.


EcoCert started in France and since then it has only expanded globally. The certification by EcoCert ensures that textiles made with organically grown materials meet the Organic Content Standards. This certification evaluates that the organic agricultural products such as organic cotton, linen or hemp and helps farmers to move towards organic methods of farming.


If you see a sunflower logo on a product then you must know that that product is made from vegan only derivatives. Certified by a UK based registered charity Sunflower Logo on products means that the manufacturing process did not include any animal product or by product.


Measuring and evaluating an organization’s carbon footprint means tracking the amount of damage they are doing to the environment. Effective carbon management reveals by applying different methods a business can reduce their emission and play their part in conserving their environment. Also, as a company, you will profit through efficient use of your resources and you will also receive public approval for being socially responsible.


NSF international called the National Sanitation Foundation is a third party certification that ensures human and environmental safety across different industries. This certification is given to clothing manufacturers when they abide by their codes and principles which are environment centric.


Livestock, especially sheep and cows are responsible for producing most greenhouse gases through grazing and excretion of waste from their body. Climate beneficial wool comes from animals that are raised in such a way that they do not emit carbon. For now, this project is centered on wool but soon it will expand to another animal bond raw material.

Applicable mostly in the US as of now; farmers, weaver and mill owners of California are the main receivers of this certification. Anything that you buy from California with a Climate Beneficial stamp would mean that they were created using methods that curtailed carbon emission.


ROC is the acronym for Regenerative Organic Certified. A considerably new certification that is still in the testing stage in the US. This certification goes beyond organic manufacturing of goods; instead, it is holistic agriculture certification to attain which one must ensure the welfare of animals, fair treatment of farmers and workers, along with taking robust initiatives for soil health and land management.  


Following certifications are given to business setups that are trying to provide a sustainable environment for people to work in and are also producing environmentally friendly products. This certificate encompasses whole business models and not just a ‘green range’ or ‘green-product’. Businesses that include environmentally efficient methods of production to deliver get these certificates.  Ethical clothing brands like Adidas have these certifications.


Approved a nonprofit B Lab, B Corp certification is given to companies that have proven to commit themselves to do right by the sustainability initiative. B corp companies are legally bound to consider and uphold their responsibility as a corporation for their actions related to workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment.


Bluesign is a standard awarded to textile manufacturers that ensure what they are producing is environmentally friendly by using internationally approved methods. Bluesign certification takes into account everything that is used in the production of fabric – from chemicals that are used to dye, the amount of water being used to manufacture each yarn of fabric to the level of toxicity each dye carries and finally the health of those working in the manufacturing industry.


                  Eco Age is a London based consultancy that certifies fashion brands that commit to ethical social and environmental practices. A brand that wishes to get certified by Eco Age needs to prove that they are promoting and regulating fair work, being inclusive, and managing environmental factors efficiently.

Follow this log to understand your labels and certificates. Enjoy ethically made clothing so you no longer have to feel guilty about your choices.