Global Organic Textile Standard

November 29, 2017

The summer after I finished college I worked at a sort of convenience/camp store in beautiful Big Sur, California. It was a wonderful summer but I remember a particular customer who scoffed at the organic chocolate bar we had displayed on the counter: “First tomatoes and now this.” This remark has stuck with me these many years because that was a fairly common sentiment in 2010. People, even people in liberal, hippy California didn’t necessarily understand the importance of organic tomatoes and organic chocolate and organic everything else.


Given the choice: organic is better for the health of the consumer, the environment, and the people who grow our food [1].

When it comes to the environment organic agriculture is important in protecting ecosystem health including water quality, soil health, and biodiversity [2].

In terms of human health, these synthetic fertilizers and pesticides can be very dangerous.

Recent studies have shown that using biological fertilizers, instead of synthetic fertilizers, builds organic matter in the soil which has been linked to a decrease in nutrient run off and an increase in a crop’s ability to withstand or repel insect attack and plant disease [2].

Wow. I apologize for all that science if it's not something you're into. Ultimately: synthetic fertilizers are bad and A LOT of them are used in conventional farming.

The Global Organic Textile Standard is one of the world’s leading processing standards for textiles made from organic fibers [7]. The Standard defines environmental criteria along the entire supply chain of organic textiles (spinning, knitting, weaving, wet processing, manufacturing, and trading) and also requires compliance with social criteria [7]. Global Organic Textile Standard does not include certification of farms that produce raw products (like cotton) but the fibers must be certified organic based on national or international standards [8].

The GOTS quality assurance system is based on on-site inspection and certification of the textile processing and trade chain [9]. The GOTS certifier reviews bookkeeping to verify to flow of goods, assesses the processing and storage system, assesses the separation and identification of areas of risk to organic integrity, inspects chemical inputs (dyes, etc.) for compliance with GOTS, inspects waste water and treatment system of wet processors, checks social criteria, and verifies the operator’s risk assessment of contamination and residue testing policy [9].

Operators at all stages have to undergo an on-site annual inspection cycle and must hold a valid certification as prerequisite in order for final products to be labelled as GOTS certified [9]. Processors and manufacturers that receive a GOTS scope certification have demonstrated to the assigned certifier that they are able to work in compliance with all applicable GOTS criteria in the fields of operations and for the product groups shown on their certificate [9].

Only textiles produced and certified according to the provisions of the standard can carry the GOTS label [8]. Products that are made with at least 95% certified organic fiber can be labeled ‘Organic’ and products that are made with at least 70% certified organic fiber can be labeled ‘Made with Organic’.

All in all I’m pretty impressed with this organization. Their website was pretty difficult to navigate but I eventually kind of figured out what they were trying to do. The fact that they rely on other organizations to ensure that the fibers they process were organically grown seems a little off the map considering that they do literally everything else. However, I still feel 100% comfortable buying GOTS products.

  1. “Pesticides in Produce - Consumer Reports.”Https://,
  2. Burns, Mikaela. “Organic FAQs.” Organic Farming Research Foundation, 9 Nov. 2017,
  3. “The Problem.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 10 Mar. 2017,
  4. “Where Nutrient Pollution Occurs.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 9 Mar. 2017,
  5. “Fertilizer and Plant Food Poisoning.” Healthline, Healthline Media,
  6. “The Effects: Human Health.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 10 Mar. 2017,
  7. “The Standard.” Global Organic Textile Standard,
  8. “General Description.” Global Organic Textile Standard,
  9. “How to Become Certified.” Global Organic Textile Standard,