Would you consider yourself a “conscious consumer”? According to leading data and insights company Kantar, consumers of today are increasingly concerned about where their products are coming from, what they are made of, and the sustainability of their production.
Why might this be? Well, there are various theories; perhaps the pandemic made us stop to think about how our buying practices impact our planet. Perhaps the visible effects of climate change on our daily lives have begun to drive action. Or perhaps young, prominent activists such as Greta Turnburg are inspiring us to make individual changes.
Whatever the case may be, the aforementioned rise in conscious consumerism is having a positive effect, as more and more brands are forced to evaluate their environmental impact and increase their efforts to use safe, high quality, eco-friendly materials to win us over. And we’re not mad at it!
If you’ve already begun to look a little deeper into the roots and origins of the products you purchase, you’ve probably come across the Oeko-Tex® certification.
What is Oeko-Tex®?
Oeko-Tex is a foundation that dates back to 1992, whose self proclaimed mission is:
“To create trust in textiles and leather and in their production: through increased product safety, improving sustainable production and a sustainable, transparent value-creation chain.”
This foundation uses independent laboratory tests to test different fabrics and textiles products, ensuring that they are safe to use and harmless to our health. If fabrics meet the required criteria and pass the test, they are granted an Oeko-Tex® certification or badge which brands can use for marketing purposes and on their product labels.
Why is Oeko-Tex® important?
There are a few reasons as to why Oeko-Tex is so important:
First of all, the independent, third-party testing model of Oeko-Tex is particularly crucial and relevant nowadays, to help prevent “greenwashing”, aka brands attempting to jump on the eco-friendly bandwagon without putting their money where their mouth is.
Secondly, many people are not aware that when you sleep on top of certain bed sheets, wear a piece of clothing, or snuggle up inside a cozy blanket, any toxic or harmful substances that have been used to treat that item can be absorbed through your skin, into your bloodstream.
This process is called dermal absorption, and can end up damaging our organs and bodies. This is why certifications like Oeko-Tex are so important.
Other perks to buying products with an Oeko-Tex® certification are that they can be safely used upon purchase, immediately and without washing first!
Most Common Oeko-Tex® Certifications: Unpacked
STANDARD 100 by Oeko-Tex®
Of all of the product safety tests that Oeko-Tex performs, the STANDARD 100 by Oeko-Tex® certification is the most well-known and trusted of them all; maybe you’ve even spotted it on some clothing or bedding items in your own closet!
If a textiles article carries the STANDARD 100 label, this means that every single element of this article has been independently tested for harmful substances, has met Oeko-Tex’s extensive criteria, and been found to be 100% safe. And we mean every. single. element. - threads, zippers, buttons, and all!
Did You Know: in many cases, the Oeko-Tex® STANDARD 100 certification specifications are even stricter than national and international requirements? PLUS, certification criteria are updated at least once a year, to stay up to date with scientific discoveries and other requirements? If that doesn’t make you sleep easy, we don’t know what will! (Well, we’ve got a few ideas…)
STANDARD 100 Product Classes
Within the Oeko-Tex® STANDARD 100 certification, there are four different Product Classes. These classes are used to categorize products according to their intended usage and, dependent on this, products will have to fulfill different requirements.
Product Class 1: Includes products for babies. Naturally, this Product Class has the strictest criteria to meet.
Product Class 2: Includes products which come into direct contact with the skin “to a large extent”, such as shirts, underwear, mattresses, etc.
Product Class 3: Includes products which have no or minimal direct contact with the skin during use, like jackets, belts, etc.
Product Class 4: Includes decoration materials and accessories, such as curtains, table cloths, etc.
MADE IN GREEN by Oeko-Tex®
The MADE IN GREEN by Oeko-Tex® certification is awarded to textiles and leather products which are not only free from harmful substances, but have also been manufactured in “environmentally friendly facilities, under safe and socially responsible working conditions”.
What exactly does this mean? Well, let’s tackle the environmental point first. Facilities are considered environmentally friendly if they take steps such as:
- properly managing the waste produced during their production process, by e.g. recycling
- reducing water usage and carbon footprint as much as possible
- avoiding using hazardous chemicals
- using renewable energy sources when possible
- using best-available technologies with regards sustainability
How about the social responsibility aspect, we hear you ask? Well, this includes providing fair working conditions to employees, such as fair wages and working hours. It also means banning forced and child labor, ensuring health and safety inspections have been passed, and ensuring protective equipment is available on site, as well having building safety protocols in place.
Does “Oeko-Tex® Certified” also mean Organic?
The simple answer is no. While Oeko-Tex® certified products have to meet a wide range of criteria, they are not automatically classed as organic. If you are looking to turn your conscious consumerism up a notch, try looking for “GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) Certified” or “OCS (Organic Content Standard) Certified” alongside your Oeko-Tex badge.
GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) Certification
Unlike the OEKO-Tex Certification - which deals with the hazardous nature of products - GOTS deals with the organic nature of products. Through an independent testing process, items that contain a minimum of 95% organic fibers are labeled “organic”, while those containing a minimum of 70% organic fibers are labeled “made with organic materials”.
How to Check if a Product is Oeko-Tex® Certified
As well as checking the product label or online product information for any given item, Oeko-Tex also offers an official Label Check Tool on their website.
This allows you to look up a specific Oeko-Tex® certified product, using a number and/or QR code, and check the validity of its certification. This feature allows you to dig deeper and learn more about the production process, supply chain, etc. of said product.
Oeko-Tex®-Certified Sunday Citizen Products
Here at Sunday Citizen, we understand the importance and peace of mind that Oeko-Tex® certifications give to consumers. We are a fourth-generation textiles family business, and we know all too well that not all materials are created equally.
The use of chemicals is commonplace and necessary in the production of various fabrics, but some chemicals are better and safer to use than others. That’s why the majority of our products, including all of our bath linens, throws & bed blankets, Snug Waffle Robes, Snug Shams and more have been certified according to OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100.
This certifies that our products are completely free from harmful substances, making them safe for you to use. We will continue to be directly involved in the development, design, and manufacturing process of our own fabrics and products (as opposed to buying what’s already out there), and bring you safe, cozy items to use and enjoy in your home.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Oeko Tex Made in China?
Products can be Oeko-Tex® certified regardless of where they are made or produced. They simply have to meet specific criteria and requirements.
Is Oeko Tex Important?
Yes - Oeko-Tex uses an independent, third-party testing model to prevent greenwashing. It allows consumers to be more conscious, and avoid products that contain harmful or toxic substances.
Does Oeko Tex mean no formaldehyde?
No. While formaldehyde is banned in Oeko-Tex® STANDARD 100’s Product Class 1 (products for use by babies), items in Product Class 4 (decorative items) may contain up to 300mg/kg of formaldehyde.
Does Oeko Tex mean no phthalates?
No. There are, however, limits on the amount of phthalates that can be used in any Oeko-Tex® certified item.
Is Oeko Tex Hypoallergenic?
Oeko-Tex® certified items are certainly preferable for those with allergies and sensitive skin, as they are guaranteed to be safe from harsh harmful chemicals and dyes. Nevertheless, further certifications (such as an ASL - Allergy Standards Ltd - certification) may be required to determine if an item is 100% hypoallergenic.
Is Organic Cotton Oeko Tex?
Products made from Organic Cotton do not automatically gain an Oeko-Tex® certification, as additional criteria must be met for the latter.