and then the come down
I hope you are well and in good spirits.
To our newcomers - Shum, Lorraine, Xuan, Christina, Camille, Linnea, Elizabeth, V, Anjali, Sam, Folake, Shruti, and Paula - welcome! It's great to have you with us.
As a bit of background, I write this Sunday newsletter to keep me honest: to make sure that I'm up to date with the latest in the world of sustainability; that I'm thinking about the issues; and that I'm sharing those learnings with you, dear reader. I also try to make the newsletters relatively "fun" to read...
Today we're looking at a specific clothing label I came across (below), but If you're curious about next-generation sustainable materials more generally, you'll find lots of information in our newsletter archive and in our journal.
The very noticeable tag inside the sweater.
This week a friend gave me a sweater that they no longer wore. As I was trying it on, I noticed the huge label (image above) sewn inside. There was a flash of green text, so naturally my sustainability-attuned brain stopped mid-undressing and took a closer look.
Oh that's interesting, I thought. I know *all* about OEKO-TEX®, but what's this MADE IN GREEN business?
I was skeptical.
You see, I first learned about OEKO-TEX back in 2017 when I was looking at protective dust bags for LUXTRA. I settled on a cotton that carried the OEKO TEX 100 standard (image below). The organic cotton bags were about 3 times the price so I felt pretty A-ok with my decision to choose a "half way" material (fledgling start up budget and all). I happily went about my day thinking I'd made the best eco-friendly decision possible, given the constraints.
OEKO, y'know.... sounds pretty eco, right?
My little OEKO TEX bubble was burst when a few months later I met with Marieke Eyskoot. Marieke is a Dutch sustainable fashion & lifestyle expert. We were doing an analysis of LUXTRA's eco-credentials and when we came to packaging, I confidently told her that yes, our dust bags were OEKO TEX certified. Of course! [Waited for a pat on the back].
The Dutch are known for being direct. Marieke is Dutch, as I said.
And yep, she shut me and my smug eco-confidence right down.
The Standard 100 label merely certifies that a product is free from certain (well, 100) very toxic chemicals. Whenever I subsequently saw it on products, I cast a disdainful look at them, thinking to myself "ah ha! Their marketing department is trying to bluff the consumer into thinking this product is more 'green' than it really is! Cast those dastardly people into the fire!"
And yes, that was my actual stream of consciousness.
Supper for me tonight.
Which brings us back to the label on my new hand-me-down sweater.
Every week I cast about for a good topic for this newsletter, schvitzing that this is the week I won't get it together in time.
I jumped for joy on Friday when I came across the that label. Perfect! It's a fine example of greenwashing if ever there were one. OEKO TEX certifications are simply about chemicals. How dare they add this green bit to it. And given that it's COP26 mania right now, it's the perfect, topical subject. DONE!
I'd written half the newsletter, feeling like I was on a very self-satisfied roll.
I then double checked this "Made In Green" thing. You know... to be sure I was saying the right thing.
My face fell.
I try not to swear, so I'll leave you to imagine what some people may have said in my place. 😬
MADE IN GREEN .... well... I couldn't fault it! I desperately went through the website, looking for something that would fit into my pre-determined green-washing narrative.
There was nothing.
MADE IN GREEN assures the following:
No child labour ✅
Fair and safe working conditions ✅
Use of renewable energy ✅
Reduction of carbon footprint ✅
Safe treatment of waste water ✅
Super transparent supply chain data for every product ✅
There's more but I'll stop there. I feel sick at how wrong I was.
The label is incredibly respectable and comprehensive. And decidedly not green-washing-y at all.
OEKO TEX as an organisation had lifted its game. Not to mention the brands that use it.
OEKO TEX, my new friend, I salute you and will be off now, to eat my humble pie.
But before I go...
SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE
Early last week LUXTRA launched with our very first wholesale customer: KrisShop, which is the retail arm of Singapore Airlines.
Travel is one of my biggest passions, so I am honoured that LUXTRA’s partnership with KrisShop helps inch the industry as a whole towards a more sustainable future.
As was said many times during the Vegan Women Summit last week: we’re going for progress not perfection… good on the way to great.
Wishing you a happy week ahead.
For my part, I'll be making sure I don't jump to conclusions...
Founder | Plant Parent | Proud B Corp-er