Reducing the Impact of the Textile Industry on the Environment

Earth Day is an important reminder that we must all take responsibility and act in ways that protect our planet. It is an opportunity to pause and consider how our actions impact the health of the Earth. While we often focus on large scale societal changes to mitigate the climate crisis, we must also remember that we have the ability to protect the planet by voting with our wallets. For example, by purchasing clothing, footwear and home goods that are tested for harmful chemicals, we can make a positive difference for both human and environmental health.  

As increasing CO2 emissions and the associated climate crisis pose a radical threat to our environment and future generations, every industry must focus on sustainability efforts. This is especially true in the fashion industry, which accounts for 20 percent of all industrial water pollution worldwide.  

For almost 30 years, sustainability has been a cornerstone of the OEKO-TEX® mission. Our work draws attention to the complex manufacturing processes for textiles and leather products and aims to improve the fashion and home textile industries in the long term. 

OEKO-TEX® tests for, and certifies, that chemicals in textiles are below levels that would typically cause harm and ensures compliance with regulations around the world. The OEKO-TEX® portfolio of independent certifications and product labels has enabled companies along the textile and leather chain, as well as consumers, to make responsible decisions in favor of products that are safer, more environmentally friendly and manufactured in a socially responsible way. With more than 196 countries with differing and changing laws that affect textiles, it is nearly impossible for a brand, retailer or manufacturer to stay ahead of all of these changes while also focusing on their product designs and running their core business. OEKO-TEX® updates standards, limit values and restricted substance lists annually and is constantly monitoring legal, NGO, industry, health/scientific and technical information. 

Consumers can make a positive impact on the environment by purchasing clothing, footwear and home goods from environmentally conscious brands. When consumers see a MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® product label, they can be confident that the item – from the yarn to the buttons – has been tested for harmful substances which is carried out through certification in accordance with STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX® or LEATHER STANDARD by OEKO-TEX®, which restricts more than 350 substances. 

OEKO-TEX also helps partners throughout the textile supply chain improve wastewater and chemical management and take responsibility for the pollutants that go into water supplies. The MADE IN GREEN label requires textile facilities with wet processes to complete a wastewater analysis and inventory all of the chemicals in the manufacturing process. Additionally, OEKO-TEX® has created an analysis tool called DETOX TO ZERO by OEKO-TEX®, so partners can optimize and monitor chemical management and wastewater quality. Through this practical and feasible action plan, the textile supply chain avoids the use of toxic chemicals, which protects waters from pollution and makes the water safer for humans, wildlife and vegetation. 

We can all make a difference by choosing responsibly for our planet. After all, there is no plan B for the Earth. Our only option is to protect it. Collectively, we can take the path toward a better future. When consumers look for the MADE IN GREEN by OEKO-TEX® product labels, they are supporting manufacturers, retailers and brands in their efforts to reduce water pollution and make the textile industry more sustainable.