Buying Organic: what really is organic?

  • Amy Broomhead
  • 21st May 2020

Earlier this year BIDBI was accredited with a GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification, which was awarded to us by the Soil Association.

GOTS is the leading worldwide textile processing standard needed to truly call a textile product organic. This includes; using at least 70% organic fibres, ensuring that all chemicals used, like dyes, must meet their low toxicology criteria and water treatment plants must be put in place, amongst other social criteria that must also be met.

GOTS is just one of two accreditations certified by the Soil Association. OCS or Organic Content Standard is another organic verification process. However, unlike GOTS, OCS accredits the organic standard of the raw materials contained within the product. A product must contain at least 95% organic material to obtain the OCS 100 logo.  However, it doesn’t address other chemicals or processes within the supply chain. That is to say if a t-shirt was made from organic cotton but was dyed or decorated with non-organic processes, it could still meet OCS criteria. Because BIDBI often dyes and prints onto our organic products, we chose to the GOTS accreditation because it allows for full transparency and shows that all processes, dyes and chemicals in our supply chain are organic. 

Unlike Food, textile products can be called organic without actually having been certified. Therefore, if a company procures/buys an organic textile product to then sell to their customers, then the product will be called organic, or say the materials used to make the product are organic. Some companies may still claim that the product is organic, even if they then modify the product, process it, or customise the product in a non-organic way.

For example; a branding company is selling GOTS certified t shirts, but the company itself is not GOTS certified. You, as a customer would like the t-shirts embroidered with your design or logo. The branding company embroider the t-shirts. You receive your t-shirts and still believe they are organic; however, they cannot be called GOTS certified organic as the processing, in this case, embroidery, was not done by a GOTS certified company.

For BIDBI to receive the GOTS accredited, meant we had to follow the rigorous GOTS criteria. In doing so we had to assure that our whole supply chain, from the cotton farming, material dying and weaving, right up to the water processing, inks, and cleaning supplies in our Sheffield factory are organic.

Every aspect of our supply chain; toxicology, water treatment and the social criteria are met the whole way through.

It is important to check with the companies you are purchasing from whether they are an accredited processor, or if it is just the products they are selling that are certified organic. This way you can guarantee the product you are buying will still be organic whether it is printed, embroidered or modified in any way.

By having the GOTS accreditation we feel like we are not only practising in the most environmentally sound way possible, but we are also offering complete transparency to the companies we work with. Becoming GOTS accredited offers proof that our whole process, start to finish is truly organic, and offers our customers a product they can proudly market as organic.

Follow this link to browse all of our GOTS accredited products.