Greenpeace’s longstanding international Detox My Fashion campaign has created global standards which now enable us to sell high quality, organic cotton clothing free from hazardous chemicals.
UK T-shirt printer Teemill meets these standards, meaning Greenpeace UK will now be able to sell clothing that complies fully with the standards we campaigned for.
Learn more about how the products are made on the Greenpeace Teemill store here, and read on for more detailed information about the standards and how they came about.
What is Greenpeace doing and why are we doing it this way?
The global fashion industry is a huge polluter, and most clothes worldwide are made at great detriment to the environment and workers’ rights. Many clothes are made by using and releasing unnecessary contaminants into the environment when factories wash, dye and print garments – something Greenpeace has been campaigning to fix.
For years, through our Detox My Fashion campaign Greenpeace has worked internationally on challenging the textile and fashion industries to make clothing without using or releasing hazardous chemicals into the environment.
After a decade of campaigning for better standards in textile and clothing production, Greenpeace has created its own verification system, in partnership with OEKO-TEX – the world’s leading non-hazardous textiles standard-bearer. DETOX TO ZERO by OEKO-TEX is a verification system which aims to implement the criteria of the Greenpeace Detox Campaign within production facilities.
Thanks to this, and OEKO-TEX’s other standards and the GOTS organic cotton certification, Greenpeace UK is able to now sell T-shirts that meet the most stringent standards in environmentally friendly clothing production.
You can read more about the standards Greenpeace UK’s T-shirts meet below.
How does Teemill meet Greenpeace’s clothing production and procurement standards?
To comply with the Greenpeace standard, Teemil’s printer on the Isle of Wight has recently obtained OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certification. This verifies the practices used at the production site and that the printing inks and final products are free from hazardous chemicals, according to the most stringent testing available on the market – and means they are suitable for baby clothing.
Teemill is also certified by GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard – the global accreditation standard for the supply of organic cotton in the textile industry), and its factory uses renewable energy.
The Global Organic Textile Standard is a globally used and recognised processing standard for textiles made from organic fibres. It defines environmental criteria along the entire organic textiles supply chain and requires compliance with social criteria as well. We are requiring that natural fibre raw materials are GOTS label grade “organic” (at least 95% certified organic fibre) or equivalent.
Additionally, T-shirts are digitally printed to order in the UK, so there’s no waste from over-stocked designs and sizes. Teemill’s packaging is 100% plastic free, and at the end of your T-shirt’s life, Teemill will give you an incentive to send it back for reuse, recycling or remanufacturing.
This commitment to producer responsibility is the crucial first step towards a more circular economy that is good for people and the planet.
Do these high standards apply across the supply chain?
These products are made for Greenpeace UK by Teemill using a supply chain which complies fully with Greenpeace’s Textile Procurement Standard, which requires up-to-date auditing and independent certification to the following global standards:
- GOTS certificates – Teemill, UK, and supply chain in India, organic cotton (and social audit).
- OEKO-TEX Standard 100 Annex 6, product certificate – Teemill, hazardous chemicals testing.
- OEKO-TEX DETOX to ZERO audit, Standard 100 Annex 6 product certification – supply chain in India, hazardous chemical inputs, discharges and final product.
- The supply chain auditing and certifications by OEKO-TEX are confirmed by the OEKO-TEX Letter of Compliance to Teemill.
These standards cover stringent environmental and social requirements, and certificates are only awarded following independent third party validation. Greenpeace is provided with copies of all up-to-date certificates and verification by OEKO-TEX of hazardous chemical compliance, as they are renewed.
In addition, all of the factories in India and the UK that make and then print and distribute the T-shirts are powered by renewable energy, wind and solar.
I heard that growing and processing cotton is water intensive and polluting. Can you tell me more about the cotton being used?
Greenpeace UK’s T-shirts meet the most stringent standards for organic cotton (GOTS). The raw organic cotton is predominantly grown in the wetter area of Northern India using water from reservoirs supplied by monsoon rain.
The dyes and chemicals used in the wet processing (washing, dyeing) are checked by OEKO-TEX to ensure that hazardous chemicals are not used. Wastewater is analysed to check that hazardous chemicals are not present above very stringent limits, so that hazardous residues from the processes are not released into the environment as far as possible.
A closed-loop water system is used in the washing, dyeing and finishing processes, where the used water is purified and reused again and again, minimising water use and eliminating wastewater discharges.
What are people paid in Teemill’s factories? And what are the standards for workers’ conditions?
Teemill’s UK factory has created more jobs and paid higher wages every year for the last five years. Nobody is paid less than the living wage. The company has a partial shared-ownership model, where many of our employees own share options in the company.
Teemill has also created dozens of full time jobs for unemployed people including through vocational training and modern apprenticeships, and trainees and apprentices are paid above the minimum. There are no zero-hour contracts.
In India, Teemill can prove that pay is fair based on independent audit reports and in-person inspections. The workers in this factory are paid in line with the living wage as defined by the Global Living Wage Coalition.
The strict standards outlined above (such as the GOTS v6.0) also include requirements that all products are manufactured from organic cotton and with strict controls to eliminate hazardous chemicals in any part of the process. As well as eliminating danger to workers, these standards require that there are good working conditions and health and safety rules, fair working hours and remuneration of staff, the right to join trade unions, no child workers, and no discrimination, bullying or harassment.
How did Greenpeace’s Detox my Fashion campaign create the DETOX to ZERO standard?
In 2011 Greenpeace challenged the textile industry to make clothing that is both affordable and free from the use or release of hazardous chemicals. At that time, the textile industry was a long way off this goal.
Since then, 80 clothing companies have committed to detoxing their fashion by eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals and their release to waterways by 2020.
In our 2018 report, Destination Zero, we showed how significant progress has been made towards increased transparency and the elimination of hazardous chemicals in supply chains. This has triggered all kinds of new initiatives across the industry, and has influenced standards across the sector. In 2018 we started a pilot project to show that it is possible to produce textiles in keeping with our ambitious Detox requirements.
These developments meant that from April 2019 Greenpeace began trialling DETOX to ZERO, to start making t-shirts, bags and other merchandise. It reflects the best overall practice in the market for detecting and eliminating the use and discharge of hazardous chemicals, resulting from the Detox campaign. It uses the best third party tools and standards that are now available for textiles manufacturing facilities to address hazardous chemicals and ensures full supply chain transparency.
Greenpeace offices have now begun using selected suppliers who meet the new standard for merchandising, which includes UK printer Teemill.