What are eco-certifications

What are eco-certifications

The world is continually evolving to incorporate new practices in social and commercial industries to have more positive impacts on our environment. From the way things are manufactured to how we consume and dispose of them.

An eco-certification helps us as consumers make more conscious decisions when purchasing from businesses. Inevitably, these are also better and more positive actions that will benefit our environment.

In the context of clothing, accessories and other fashion items, these eco labels help to inform us that the items we purchase are made with quality materials, manufactured fairly and will last.

Why are eco-certifications so important?

These specific certifications aren’t just beneficial to the consumer. They ensure trade is valued fairly, employees maintain their rights in the workplace, the environment doesn’t suffer from manufacture, transport of the item or the materials used to make it.

“The average American throws away around 81 pounds of clothing yearly”

(Saturday Evening Post, 2018)

Certified products are of a higher quality than fast fashion clothing. Styles are often more timeless to match the longevity of the product.

“Three out of five fast fashion items end up in a landfill”

(Clean Clothes Campaign, 2019)

Fast fashion contributes to 10% of our global carbon emissions. Garments are considered to be used on a short-term basis and this results in a huge volume of clothes ending up in landfill. Eco certifications ensure that not only the practices of the manufacturer are going beyond what is needed for our environment but also that the materials used don’t have a negative impact once they are no longer usable.

How does it affect the materials we wear?

When first manufactured, no one predicted the detrimental effects fleece would have on our environment. Not only can this synthetic material take anywhere between 20 and 200 years to decompose, but each and every time it gets washed, millions of microplastics end up leaching into the water system.

“More than one-third of the microplastics in the ocean come from washing synthetic clothing.”

(Ocean Clean Wash, 2019)

Having an eco label doesn’t only protect the process of a garment and the workers, but insures that the materials are responsibly sourced, are easily renewable and decompose naturally and unharmfully. This even relates to the label inserted in the garment and the ink used to print designs. To have an eco certification, all of these elements must be withheld to the highest standard.

How transparent are eco certifications?

The reasons to look out for and support businesses with these credentials seems boldly clear, but is there anything we should be aware of?

Eco certifications are sort out by the company themselves. They have to provide relevant documentation to prove they withhold these standards. This often comes at a cost to process and review the information. There are governmental, non-governmental and third party collectives that assess products against strict criteria.

Once a company has passed the organisation's tests, it shows that it has been approved by bearing the eco friendly logo. The key is that they’ve proven their product has fewer impacts on the environment with its functionality or production than a competitively similar item.

Most eco certificates are focused on sustainability. They focus on driving industries to change and encourage consumers to adapt their habits for a more sustainable future.

What is the reliance on the consumer?

Trends play an important role in fashion anyway, but for environmentally friendly certifications, movement of a mass majority can have an incredible impact. The companies who provide transparency not only prove a great commitment to looking after the world but also engage their customers by being trustworthy and loyal to their cause.

The more consumers choose to buy from ethical, responsible, sustainable and reputable sources, the more other companies will have to change their processes to stay relevant.

As the world continually evolves to correct and counteract the consequences our consumers habits have had, we can continue to grow and educate ourselves to be more proactive about not supporting fast fashion hype. Social impact will be the biggest factor in change!

What eco certifications should I look out for?

There are currently 87 eco labels in the UK that are constantly evolving and growing. This spans all industries from clothing to cleaning to building and many more.

Carbon Neutral

Carbon Neutral is a trademarked certification that shows a company to have reduced its carbon emissions to net zero. This means they choose the least impactful processes in manufacturing and transport and any emissions they do make, they offset with other initiatives.


Oeko-Tex textiles and fabrics are certified free of harmful chemicals and are safe for human use. The certification shows that the textile and fabric products are grown according to strict guidelines on the use of petroleum based fertilisers, pesticides and synthetic products.

Fair Wear Foundation

Fair Wear Foundation represents that employment is chosen freely, with no discrimination, no exploitation of child labour, employess are paid a living wage with reasonable work hours in a safe and healthy conditions. It also ensures freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining with a legally binding employment relationship between employer and employee.


Eco certifications inform consumers that a product does not harm the environment through its lifecycle, or reasonable steps have been made by the manufacturer to reduce its impact. The more we educate ourselves on healthy industry practices and support companies with these certifications, the more influence will be made for positive changes. The term fashion forward should be changing to mean sustainable and responsible.