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What Does Eco Stand For?

January 16, 2020

You care about the environment and have heard about sustainable clothing, but what is that? Eco, fair trade, ethical, responsible, conscious or sustainable; is it all the same or are their differences.

Sustainability is the primary collective name. The official definition of sustainability is: striving for ecological balance. An efficient system that does not consume more than nature can give it back. For fashion and clothing, this means that the products must be manufactured without damaging the environment. It is also about the social ramifications of a product throughout its life.


What Does Eco Stand For

The process behind our clothes

Clothing has to go a long way before it ends up in stores and ultimately in our closets. Here is the necessary process in a very simplified form:
With natural raw materials such as cotton, it grows in the field and is washed and combed after harvesting, processed into threads and woven into a fabric. Now the cut parts are cut out and sewn together using various machines, packed and delivered to the shops. Besides, many different people are involved in the processes, such as Designers, buyers, farmers, sewers, logisticians and sellers. On average, over 169 people are involved in the production of a garment.

Since this production chain is so multifaceted, there are various ways to measure the sustainability of the resulting clothing. We can divide these into the concept of the 3 P's: People, Planet, Profit, i.e. ecological, social or economic aspects of the value chain.


What eco means

The terms eco, environmentally friendly or biological represent the environmental field. Important factors are, e.g. use of pesticides, water consumption and energy. But animal friendliness also falls into this category.

Social initiatives such as Fairtrade and the Fair Wear Foundation look at everything in which people are involved, such as harvesting the raw materials and sewing clothes. These organizations focus on the work that is being done. How many hours do you work? What are the working conditions like? For example, is there personal protective equipment when people work with toxic substances or use dangerous machines?

Furthermore, it is checked whether people are paid enough and can live on the country's minimum wage standards. That sounds very obvious to us, but in most clothing factories, the whole family has to work long days (every day) to have a roof over their heads and food on the table.

As a result, e.g. organic cotton, although it is better for the environment, is not automatically ethically or economically responsible. But the chance is greater because the fact that agricultural workers already work without toxic substances means that they have a healthier job (socially sustainable). They are usually paid better because it is more expensive to produce organic cotton (economically viable). In addition, it is likely that the rest of the production process will also be examined to guarantee quality.

In a perfect world, of course, every piece of clothing should be sustainable in all of the above points. However, since the clothing industry is very complicated when you look at how many people are involved in a product, it is almost impossible to check everything. Fortunately, more and more people are involved in sustainable initiatives and demand transparency in the manufacturing processes.

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