Yes It’s Organic makes it easy for you to understand the labels in our store. We use the terms “Certified Organic” and "Eco-friendly."
What Is Certified Organic?
There are many organizations that certify “Organic” growing and/or processing conditions around the world. These organizations are independent of any companies involved in any part of the processes for growing crops or manufacturing products.
These companies are approved by government entities and are referred to as "third party certifiers." The Organic Standards by which they certify products as being “Organic” have been developed by governments or nationally recognized Organic trade associations.
For example, the USDA (United States Departement of Agriculture) has developed the NOP (National Organic Program) which defines the standards for Organic certification at the farm level in the U.S. The GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) was developed by a coalition of four nationally recognized Organic trade associations. The GOTS uses the governmental Organic definitions and expands them further to include Organic standards for the processing of the crop into fiber, yarn, fabric, and finished goods. It also includes social responsibility (fair labor) standards. The GOTS is the most comprehensive and worldwide Organic standard available and toward which the Organic industry is moving. (see below)
What Is Eco-friendly?
Yes It’s Organic manufacturers either own their farmlands and manufacturing facilities or use contract farming and manufacturing companies for these activities. In either situation, they use their own guidelines and inspections to verify that no harm is done to the environment in these processes. For example, we refer to hemp and bamboo as eco friendly since they are typically not certified organic as further explained below. (Although we do have some Certified Organic bamboo products which are certified for the farming of the bamboo.)
When Does Yes It’s Organic Use the Terms “Organic” and “Eco-friendly”?
We spend time verifying our manufacturers’ claims about their products in order for our cusomters to feel confident that what we say about our products is true. For an item to be called “Organic” or “Certified Organic” in our store, it must be third party certified to a government or organic trade association Organic standard (see GOTS below).
The "third party certifiers" are government approved organizations that are trained in conducting certification audits. They conduct the certification audits all over the world. We verify Organic claims by obtaining our manufacturers’ certifications of organic.
At Yes It’s Organic we want you to feel totally confident in your Organic and eco friendly purchasing decisions without having to spend time verifying each and every purchase. You only need to have confidence in us, our requirements, and our statements so you can save time and purchase the best healthy products available anywhere.
In our store, the terms “Certified Organic” and "Organic" mean that the products have been verified by an approved third party certifying organization for Organic. An item can only be called "Organic" if it is "Certified Organic." We adhere to this requirement and use these terms interchangeably.
All products on Yes It’s Organic containing cotton use Certified Organic Cotton.
All products on Yes It’s Organic containing wool use Certified Organic Wool.
2) In our store, the term “Eco-friendly” means that the products have been verified by the manufacturer through their own internal standards and processes using standards that do no harm to the environment. For example, see the following explanations for hemp and bamboo.
Why Is It Hard to Find Certified Organic Hemp and Bamboo?
Hemp and bamboo are naturally pest and weed resistant and don’t require the use of toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. (The defiinition of “pesticides” includes insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides.) We verify with our suppliers that these crops are grown and processed without these chemicals and that the land is enriched without harmful chemicals.
Hemp and bamboo are highly renewable. Hemp enriches the soil in which it’s grown. Bamboo grows quickly, requires much less water than cotton, and is cut so it doesn't need replanting. It grows back on its own. We verify that the Bamboo is not the variety eaten by Pandas and therefore not taken from Panda food sources.
A primary reason a manufacturer may not show “Certified Organic” on hemp and bamboo products is that the certification may be too costly for small companies when hemp and bamboo naturally don't require the toxic chemical inputs anyway and the industries are still developing. There is not the same sense of urgency or demand for these to be Certified Organic. This will evolve over time as demand increases for Organic certification and especially GOTS certification.
“Moving The Line”
Convincing someone to overhaul one's life all at once usually doesn't work. However, offering people Organic and Eco-friendly alternatives along with the knowledge as to why these alternatives are better for one's health and that of our planet will make it easy for people to make better choices in their everyday purchases. Share your knowledge, experiences, and resources with your fiends and family. Help them learn what you know and get them engaged. Raise their awareness. Help them reduce consumption. For the long-term viability of life as we know it, it is becoming increasingly clear that we must move faster toward healthy habits for people and planet.
Certified Organic Standards
In the following paragraphs, we explain some of the differences between Certified Organic standards.
GOTS - Global Organic Textile Standard
We provide a detailed summary of the GOTS because we feel it is the most important, comprehensive Organic standard in the world.
We hope all national governments accept this standard to ease world trade with an assurance of a high integrity to the certification of Oranic and that manufacturers have their products approved to this standard.
The International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) was formed as an initiative of leading standard organizations in 2002 with the goal to unify the various existing standards and draft standards which caused confusion with market participants and consumers and were an obstacle to free international trade with organic textiles.
The International Working Group consists of four nationally recognized Organic trade associations around the world to create one common standard which all countries could use and by which all textile products could be judged.
The first version of the GOTS was dated October 19, 2005. It was established because the Organic standards in most countries were based on certifying crops and food only at the farm level and didn’t include the entire process chain for textiles.
With the publication, in 2008, of the revised Version 2.0 and the introduction of the logo and labelling system, the GOTS is now the leading accepted set of criteria in the field of organic textile processing in the world. It is not only a milestone in consumers’ recognition but also a the highest accountability for a reliable quality assurance concept.
The following “Aim of the Standards” and “Scope and Structure” are quoted from the GOTS standard:
“Aim of the Standards: The aim of these standards is to define world-wide recognised requirements that ensure organic status of textiles, from harvesting of the raw materials, through environmentally and socailly responsible manufacturing up to labelling in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer.” Processors and manufacturers shall be enabled to export their organic fabrics and garments with one certification accepted in all mayor selling markets.
“Scope and Structure: These standards for organic textiles cover the production, processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, exportation, importation and distribution of all natural fibres. The final products may include, but are not limited to fibre products, yarns, fabrics and clothes. The standards focus on compulsory criteria only.”
The standard is valid for fibre products, yarns, fabrics and clothes and covers the production, processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, exportation, importation and distribution of all natural fibre products. The standard does not set criteria for leather products.
The key criteria for fibre production can be figured out as following:
- The two label system requires 95%, or 70%, fibres certified organic (excluding accessories)
- Organic certification on basis of recognized international or national standards (s.a. EEC 2092/91, USDA NOP, JAS)
- Certification of fibres from conversion[-to-organic] period is possible with restrictions
- Certifier needs to be internationally recognized according to ISO 65 and/or IFOAM accredited
Quality Assurance System
The following key criteria for processing and manufacturing are valid:
- At all stages through the processing organic fibre products have to be separated from conventional fibre products and need to be clearly identified
- All chemical inputs (s.a. dyes, auxiliaries and process chemicals) are to be assessed and must meet basic requirements on toxicity and biodegradability
- Exclusion of critical inputs s.a. toxic heavy metals, formaldehyde and GMO substances
- Restrictions for accessories (e.g. no PVC, nickel or chrome permitted, no plastic appliqué or inlays)
- The waste water of all wet processing units must be treated in a functional waste water treatment plant
- Meeting social minimum criteria (based on ILO key norms) is compulsory for all processors
GOTS counts on a dual system consisting of on-site auditing and residue testing.
Key Elements of Auditing
Certification of the entire processing chain
- Operators from post harvest handling up to garment making (incl. ex- and importers) have to undergo an onsite annual inspection cycle
- Certifiers need to be accredited ISO 65 including textile certification in the accredited scope and have to be authorized by the IWG
- Orientation values for residues are defined in the standard
- Licensed operators need to undergo residue testing according to a risk assessment of contamination
- Sample taking by auditors and analysis in ISO accredited labs
Generally a company which is participating in the GOTS certification scheme needs to work in compliance with all criteria of the standard. The assigned certifier makes use of appropriate inspection methods which may include but are not limited to the following key elements:
- Quantitative calculation of the organic product flow
- Assessment of the separation and identification system
- Check on all chemical inputs to be used for recipes in organic textile pre-treatment, dyeing and finishing on basis of material safety data sheets and related information
- Inspection of the waste water treatment plants of all wet processing units and assessment of its performance
- Check on social minimum criteria (possible sources of information: interview with management, confidential interviews with workers, personnel documents, physical on-site inspection, unions/stakeholders)
Textiles produced and certified according to GOTS are to be labelled with the GOTS label combinded with an indication of the responsible Approved Certification Body and the label-grade.
The standard provides for a subdivision into two label-grades:
: ‘organic’ or ‘organic - in conversion’
≥ 95% certified organic fibres, ≤ 5 % non organic natural or synthetic fibres
: ‘made with X% organic’ or ‘made with X% organic in conversion’
≥ 70% certified organic fibres, ≤ 30 % non organic fibres, but a maximum of 10% synthetic fibres (respective 25% for socks, leggings and sportswear)
The only differentiation for subdivision is the minimum percentage of 'organic' / ‘organic ‑ in conversion’ material in the final product. Analogue to leading organic regulations in the food market (such as NOP or EEC Regulation 2092/91) at least 95%, or 70%, of the fibres must be of 'organic' or 'in conversion' status, respectively. The remaining balance (up to 5%, or 30%, respectively) may be made of non-organic fibres including defined regenerated and synthetic fibres (25% at the up-most for socks, leggings and sportswear and 10% for all other products). Blending conventional fibres of the same raw material that is used in organic quality in the same product is not permitted.
USDA Certified Organic
The USDA certifies that crops are grown by Organic standards according to the “National Organic Program (NOP)” standards. Processing and handling standards are included only for agricultural (food) products and not for production of yarn, fabric, and finished textiles.
This is from the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) web site:
“Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990. The OFPA required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop national standards for organically produced agricultural products to assure consumers that agricultural products marketed as organic meet consistent, uniform standards. The OFPA and the National Organic Program (NOP) regulations require that agricultural products labeled as organic originate from farms or handling operations certified by a State or private entity that has been accredited by USDA. Production and handling standards address organic crop production, wild crop harvesting, organic livestock management, and processing and handling of organic agricultural products.”
Oeko-Tex Standard 100
Although the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is not an organic standard, it is an important “safety” standard when organic certification is not available.
The following is compiled from pages of the Oeko-Tex web site and their brochures:
The International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile Ecology is based in Switzerland. Its certification for textiles that meet their criteria is called “Confidence in Textiles. Tested for Harmful Substances according to Oeko-Tex Standard 100.”
At the start of the 1990s the founding fathers, the Austrian Textile Research Institute in Vienna and the German Hohenstein Research Institute in Bönnigheim, developed the concept of the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 and the list of criteria, based on existing test regulations relating to harmful substances. This list of criteria is jointly updated every year and adapted to comply with the latest requirements. In its entirety, it goes far beyond existing national legal regulations.
Because of the differences that exist with regard to legal requirements and safety concepts in different countries, and the way work is spread internationally in the textile chain, a common safety standard for harmful substances is needed.
The list of criteria contains over 100 test parameters to assure that the textiles are not harmful to health. It is mandatory for all authorised Oeko-Tex test institutes. The criteria and limit values are often ahead of the field, i.e. they include not only legally banned or controlled substances but also other substances that have been scientifically assessed as harmful to health. There are also parameters which have a preventative role.
The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 is the leading label for textiles screened for harmful substances
. Products awarded this mark have been optimised for human
ecology and tested and certificated by internationally recognised textile institutes.
The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 encompasses testing criteria for textile products and also addresses quality assurance and test procedures. It not only takes into account the finished textile goods, but also any associated accessories and "grey" product areas such as fibres, yarns and buttons.
Basic Thoughts on Ecology
The International Oeko-Tex Association has based its principles of developing the Oeko-Tex standard 100 on the following basic concepts:
‘Ecology’ as a concept in the field of textiles can often be over generalised, leading to misunderstandings of its actual meaning. For example, a ‘Natural Textile’ may be assumed to be environmentally friendly by definition just because it has been produced without bleaching and dyed with natural dyes. But in general the aim is predominantly to ensure the human safety aspects of the clothing without compromising fashin and function.
This deals with the influence of textiles in their next ‘environment’, i.e., the consumer or end user of the products and addresses the screening of such products for any toxic substances that could potentially cause harm to the consumer.
Textiles with this mark are:
- Textiles that do not contain allergenic dye-stuffs and dye stuffs that form carcinogenic arylamines of the MAK-groups III A1 and III A2.
- Textiles that have been tested for pesticides and chlorinated phenoles.
- Textiles that have been tested for the release of heavy metals under artificial perspiration conditions.
- Textiles free from formaldehyde or containing trace amounts significantly lower than the required legal limits.
- Textiles with a skin friendly pH
- Textiles free from chloro-organic carriers
- Textiles for garments free from biologically active finishes
When can a finished article be awarded the Oeko-Tex label?
Only if all components of the article have been tested and certificated according to the requirements of the list of criteria for the appropriate product class. This includes outer fabric, padding, fillings and linings as well as accessories such as zips, buttons, straps, lace trim, sewing thread, foam filling etc.
The rules for organic production became regulation with EU-regulation (EEC) nr. 2092/91. This regulation came into force in 1992 as far as plant production and processing were concerned.
It was amended in 1999 to exclude GMO’s: The Council Regulation (EC) Nr. 1804/1999 includes the consideration that ‘Genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and products derived therefrom are not compatible with the organic production method; in order to maintain consumer confidence in organic production, genetically modified organisms, parts thereof and products derived therefrom should not be used in products labelled as from organic production’.
In 2000 animal husbandry and processing were included. There are other amendments to the original regulation. All EU Member states should at least meet the requirements of these regulations.
SKAL Certified Organic and the EKO symbol
Although the word “SKAL” is often used to designate the Organic certification, the official symbol of Skal is the “EKO” symbol. Skal is the Organic certifying organization in the Netherlands.
According to Skal’s web site:
“Skal is a non-profit foundation that surveys the organic production in the Netherlands in accordance with the public law, based on EU-Regulation (EEC) nr. 2092/91. This occurs by order of the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. Skal was established in 1985 as S.E.C. (Foundation for Inspection of EKO-Quality symbol) and since 1992 it operates as Skal. Skal's final aim is to offer certainty to the consumer that a product with the indication ‘organic’ really originates from an organic production process. Skal realises this by an independent survey of the organic producers by means of inspection and certification.
Skal is the legal holder of the EKO Quality symbol. This symbol stands for organic production certified by Skal that meets the requirements of the EU-regulation for organic production. The EKO Quality symbol can only be used by organic producers that are Skal licensees and have been certified by Skal.
In the past Skal also allowed the use of this symbol by organic producers outside the Netherlands and by producers of forest and wood and of specific inputs for organic production. This is no longer the case.”
As stated, Skal’s Organic certification, for a period of time, was also applied to products from other countries. However, they are not allowed to be used for products outside the Netherlands as of the end of 1996. Nevertheless, you will still see them used in this way.
SKAL has been replaced with GOTS.