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How to Know Which Sustainable Certifications to Go For?

How to Know Which Sustainable Certifications to Go For?
By Elena Picci

There are so many sustainable certifications out there. Plenty of choices just as when you shop for groceries. Do you do the same when you buy clothes?

Sustainable Fashion is important to you, but how can you tell what is truly sustainable?

There are so many certifications out there, how can you know which ones to believe or which ones are greenwashing you?

You have the same mixed feelings every time you go grocery shopping.

Where is your chicken from? Are your fruits organic? Are they certified Fairtrade? Is this chocolate vegan? Does this green color packaging indicate that it is more sustainable than the red one?

It is not about whether to purchase sustainably, rather how you can ensure that your purchases are sustainable. An eco-friendly piece of clothing could be considered ‘’Green’’ for different reasons.

’’When we talk about sustainability, we must also include all perspectives, and it is in fact a Culture, with a capital C”

Céline Semaan, founder of Slow Fashion

How to know which fashion sustainable certifications to go for?
Image Credit: Chanel Fall-Winter 2014/15

Is shopping for groceries any different than shopping for clothing?

When you set out to make the most delicious cake ever, the first step is always choosing the best ingredients. You will go to the supermarket and look for the highest quality ingredients.

If you’re vegan you might go for a substitute. If you have intolerances you will look for lactose or gluten-free ingredients.

You may seek out items from farmers who prioritize animal welfare, looking for labels like free-range and organic.

If you want to add some tasty fruits to your cake you might look for the origins of your berries and a Fair Trade sticker for your banana.

Let’s face it! When we shop for groceries, the first thing we do is check the labels to learn more about how the item was grown, the origin, the price, and of course the possibility of a cool certification logo. Doesn’t it make you happy when you see the sign “Vegan’’ even if you are not vegan?

Why should shopping for clothes be any different?

Well, just like food, some textiles are made from animals and plants.

Why wear something that you will not eat?

Did you know that there are materials your skin will thank you for wearing?

How to know which fashion sustainable certifications to go for?
Image Credit from left to right: Reformation; People Tree

What should you look for in sustainable Fashion?

There are many sustainable options out there, how can you know what is real?

Well, it depends on which values are most sacred to you. Animal lovers might choose animal welfare over the environment. Of course, many values are important but it is not always possible to have an item that meets all sustainability criteria.

Nowadays certifications are mainly divided into three categories.

#Human Rights and Worker Wellbeing

Do you always make sure your banana has the Fair Trade certified sticker on it?

You might want to go for certifications that ensure workers receive fair wages and good working conditions. Fair Trade certified brands such as clothes from People Tree  or  Global Organic Textile standard, clothes are the ones for you!  Check out Renoon’s selection of clothing with a  GOTS certification.

The B Corporation certification is also a reputable standard that ensures a company takes responsibility for its supply chain workers. Certified B corporations must adhere to stringent environmental and social standards. Certified B corps such as Veja are completely transparent with regards to where their shoes were manufactured and by whom. They even go as far as sharing the origin of their raw materials.  This radical transparency coupled with the B Corp certification ensures the final product is truly sustainable (Fortune). Is the B Corporation Certification the way of the future? Probably.

#Environment Protection

Are you a bio-maniac when purchasing your veggies?

You might want to go for certification that ensures your clothes will not pollute the environment or have any toxic effects on your skin. One certification that restricts the use of toxic chemicals is called Oeko-Tex. Certifications that ensure organic materials including the Organic Content Standard & Global Textile Standards are for you!

#Animal Welfare

Do you always make sure that none of your food contains animal ingredients?

You can shop easy with Peta Approved fashion brands! Even if the item you want is made of natural textiles such as cotton, you never know which chemicals or treatments have been used on it. If animal welfare is an important value for you, make sure Peta has approved the brand you are looking at.

Did you know Reformation is completely vegan and approved by Peta?  Shop vegan Reformation clothes on Renoon!

How to know which fashion sustainable certifications to go for?
Image Credit: Reformation

What should you beware of?

Sadly ethical claims are not always supported by evidence. Sustainability has become a competitive advantage over the last couple of years and brands are using it to sell more. However, now that you will know the tricks, you will not fall into the traps.


We all have read somewhere labels on clothes that said ‘’sustainably made’’. I will not name brands, but you probably know who I am talking about.

Those “sustainably made” labels without any certifications, without any validation from a third party, are not necessarily true.

The buzzwords ”sustainable”, ”conscious”, ”green”, ”ethical” mean everything and nothing at the same time. It is always important to know how or why an eco-friendly item is considered sustainable.

Greenwashing is when a company or organization spends more time and money on marketing themselves as environmentally friendly, rather than actually being eco-friendly. One of the most basic examples in fashion would be a t-shirt that claims to be made with sustainable materials, but in reality, it is composed of less than 5% natural materials (The Guardian).

When in doubt, stick to labels that are supported by international standards such as the GOTS or Fair Trade certification.

It is always best practice to trust only certifications given by a third party, to ensure impartial and accurate accreditation. You can even check brands yourself by searching for them on official certification websites.


Did you see which brand was the most transparent this year based on the Transparency Index released from Fashion Revolution?

You might have come to the conclusion that transparency isn’t enough to be considered sustainable. Well, you’re right.

It is not because someone is ”honest” about what they are doing does not always mean that they are doing things right. The location of a factory doesn’t always correlate with the workers’ wellbeing or their wages (The New York Times).

Transparency is a major step in the right direction, but it is also important to check for sustainable certifications to ensure true and impartial sustainability.

Looking for a transparent and well-certified brand to shop?

Check out the latest from Filippa K  on Renoon.

What to read next

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