September is a great time to reflect on our precious planet. World Clean Up Day is September 19th and European Sustainable Development Week runs from September 20th -26th.
Sustainability is one of our core values at OEKO-TEX®. We are committed to helping companies and consumers make responsible decisions in favor of textiles and leather that are safer for people and the planet. We have built several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) into our services and continuously improve our operations and standards.
Consumers everywhere are focusing more and more on how products can affect their health and the environment. Because it is hard to know where to start, we are offering some tips and best practices to help you work toward more sustainability, starting with the contents of your closet.
An easy first step toward living a sustainable life is to support brands that hold independent labels from trusted institutions such as OEKO-TEX®. Our STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® and MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® labels can be your quick and verifiable guide when shopping for safe, earth-friendly products.
- If a product earns a STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® label, it means every component (i.e., every fabric, thread, button), has been tested for harmful substances. You can trust that the product is safe for your health.
- A product with a MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® label must be produced in facilities that maintain and improve sustainable practices – from the use of chemicals to responsible handling of wastewater. You can trust that the product is safe for your health and for the environment.
Once you have purchased textiles that have been produced in a sustainable and socially responsible way, incorporate the 4 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Repair – to extend the life of those products.
- Reducing means making a conscious effort to buy fewer products and focusing on those of higher quality. A well-made piece of clothing can last years before it shows signs of wear and tear, which means fewer products are making their way into landfills. Another way to reduce is to buy from vintage or second-hand stores. The environmental impact from manufacturing the product can be spread over many more years in the hands of a new owner.
- Reusing is pragmatic way to limit waste. Old pillowcases and towels make great wash rags for your household cleaning needs, for example. Sharing clothes and passing along hand-me-downs helps family and friends who can get more use out of the garments. Both of these approaches keep unnecessary products out of landfills by creatively repurposing items you already have or extending their useful lifespans.
- Recycling is one of the more well-known earth-friendly practices. While recycling is a very important process for converting old waste into new materials, recycling items incorrectly does more harm than good. For clothing, a good practice is to take old clothes back to stores that will recycle the items for you. There are several brands that have set up donation bins and reward customers with gift cards or coupons for every donation they make.
- Repairing is a great way to extend the lifecycle of your clothing and other items for as long as possible. Instead of throwing items out, try mending or patching them first.
A sustainable lifestyle can be achieved. When people are committed to truly making a difference, the path to a cleaner, healthier earth can start with small steps, right at home.