ECO ALPHABET STANDARD

General Requirements

1. The brand, manufacturer or creator must only produce products that fall under these product categories:

Bags & Accessories, Clothing, Denim, Home Textiles (including Towels, Bed Linen, Carpet, Curtains), Jewelry, Knitwear, Shoes, Sportswear, Swimwear, Underwear.

2. The entire product range must comply with the FAIR TRADE criterion.

3. The brand must comply with the SOCIAL JUSTICE criterion.

4. For each brand, at least 50% of the total product range must meet the MAIN MATERIALS CRITERIA: ORGANIC AND/OR RECYCLED AND/OR UPCYCLED AND/OR ECO/TECH. 

We have compiled a comprehensive list with textiles, fibers, materials and certifications that exactly matches our standard’s criteria. We use this list internally to check the brands’ material claims.

Note: Main materials refer to the main material which is the essential part of the final product including fillings and insulation, for footwear: upper, lining and sole. Small accessories or by-products (e.g. buttons, zippers, sewing thread, coatings, laces, buttons and packaging) do not fall under main materials, but should be sustainable and must not be prohibited materials. 

5. No single product, no chemical input, no process of the entire product range must fall under the LIST OF PROHIBITIONS.

6. All other criteria are optional, but if checked, the brand must meet the appropriate requirements of the relevant criterion.

Criteria

FairtradeNeuMärz

FAIR TRADE

MANDATORY CRITERION

The entire product range must comply with the Fair Trade criterion. The Fair Trade criterion focuses on the production process (including the CUT-MAKE-TRIM stage), which is the most labour-intensive part of the production process. All products must be developed under the brand’s own monitoring and/or the brand must have a direct contract with the producer/ manufacturer. Fair trade means that 100% of the product range must be produced under good working conditions, regardless of whether the production process takes place in a developed region or developing region. Production that takes place in a least developed region is not allowed under any circumstances. Good working conditions comply with the internationally recognized Standards of the ILO International Labour Organisation through the United Nations:

1. Employment is freely chosen (ILO Conventions No. 29 and 105)
2. No discrimination (ILO Conventions No. 100 and 111)
3. No child labor (ILO Conventions No. 138 and 182)
4. Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining (ILO Conventions No. 87, 98, 135 and 154)
5. Payment of Living Wage (ILO Conventions No. 95 and 131)
6. Reasonable Hours of Work (ILO Conventions No. 1, 14, 30, 106)
7. Safe and Healthy working conditions (ILO Conventions No. 155)
8. Legally Binding employment relationship (ILO Conventions No. 158, 175, 177, 181)

DEZEquality21

SOCIAL JUSTICE

MANDATORY CRITERION

The brand guarantees Social Justice and equal opportunities in their internal and external corporate environment and attaches positive value to the differences between the people they work with.

Main Materials*

Main materials refer to the main material which is the essential part of the final product including fillings and insulation, for footwear: upper, lining and sole. Small accessories or by-products (e.g. buttons, zippers, sewing thread, coatings, laces, buttons and packaging) do not fall under main materials, but should be sustainable and must not be prohibited materials. 

MANDATORY: At least 50% of the total product range must meet any of the “materials” criteria. We have compiled a comprehensive list with textiles, fibers, materials, and certifications that exactly matches our standard. We use this list internally to check the brands’ material and ingredient claims.

DezOrganic21_2

*ORGANIC

MANDATORY: At least 50% of the total product range must meet any of the “materials” criteria. The organic material criterion refers to the main materials.

Organic material is produced from a natural resource such as plant or animal fibers grown or bred in accordance with organic farming standards. The renewable organic source must be free from herbicides, pesticides, insecticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organic material originating from forestry must not contribute directly or indirectly to deforestation or forest degradation. All animal fibers must be free from cruelty. Freedom from cruelty means that no animals are killed or harmed and that all animals are treated with respect by promoting health and welfare.

Organic material must contain a minimum of 95% organic material and a maximum of 5% (virgin) synthetic fibers, but 30% (virgin) synthetic fibers each are allowed for socks, leggings, denim, knitwear and sportswear.

1. Example: 100% organic cotton (GOTS certified)
2. Example: 50% hemp, 50% linen
3. Example: 95% organic cotton (GOTS certified), 5% lycra
4. Example: 70% organic wool (GOTS certified), 28% polyamide, 2% elastane (for knitwear)

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*RECYCLED

MANDATORY: At least 50% of the total product range must meet any of the “materials” criteria. The recycled material criterion refers to the main materials.

Recycled material is material that has been recovered or removed from the waste stream during the manufacturing process or before or after use by the consumer and then transformed into new material or yarn. The material must be recycled without harming nature and without using harmful chemicals or inherently problematic substances that are classified by REACH as hazardous to human health and the environment. 

Recycled material must contain at least 70% fibers derived from recycled resources and may contain a maximum of 10% (virgin) synthetic fibers, but 25% (virgin) synthetic fibers for socks, leggings and sportswear.

1. Example: 70% recycled polyester (GRS certified), 25% cotton, 5% Lycra
2. Example: 95% ECONYL®, 5% elastane
3. Example: 100% regenerated wool

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*UPCYCLED

MANDATORY: At least 50% of the total product range must meet any of the “materials” criteria. The upcycled material criterion refers to the main materials.

All upcycled materials used in the collection must have already existed and have been reused. Upcycled material has not been produced or recycled, but has been transformed into a new product. These materials come from pre-consumer waste for example excess material such as offcuts: fabric remnants left over from cutting out patterns, deadstock material or similar. Or post-consumer waste for example vintage garments, second-hand clothing or similar.

1. Example: Deadstock fabric 100% silk
2. Example: Cut-off fabric 95% organic cotton (GOTS certified), 5% lycra 

DEZ Eco Material 21_2

*ECO/TECH

MANDATORY: At least 50% of the total product range must meet any of the “materials” criteria. The eco/tech material criterion refers to the main materials.

Eco/Tech material must have less negative effects on the environment than conventional material and is compostable, naturally biodegradable and/or recyclable (closed loop / circular). However, the process for converting the raw material into an eco material should be practiced with a low carbon footprint, sustainable water and energy savings and without the use of harmful chemicals as required by REACH. In most cases, eco material is an innovative tech material developed by science. Here are the options of what it can be:

a) Natural material produced with a traditional process that supports a community and culture.
Example: Khadi

b) Cellulose-based man-made fibre obtained from the bark, wood or leaves of plants and originating from sustainably managed forests.
Example: TENCEL® (Lyocell by Lenzing)

c) Biosynthetic fiber that consists of polymers made from renewable resources, either wholly or partly.
Example: MICROSILK™ (BOLD THREADS)

d) Bio-tech material
Example: Modern Meadow Lab-Grown Leather

e) A fiber blend based on the listed ORGANIC, UPCYCLED, RECYCLED, ECO materials with a maximum of 10% (virgin) synthetic fibers, but 25% (virgin) synthetic fibers each for socks, leggings and sportswear.
Example: 30% Organic Cotton (GOTS certified), 30% Recycled Polyester, 30% ECONYL®, 10% Lycra

f) An alternative material to replace conventional material for products for which industry has so far developed little environmental or ethical solutions.
1. Example: Cellulose Acetate instead of plastic for frames.
2. Example: Lab-Created Diamonds

LocalNeuMärz10_7

LOCALLY-MADE

OPTIONAL CRITERION

At least 50% of the product collection must be produced in the same state where the brand’s head office is located. Production focuses on the CUT-MAKE-TRIM stage, which is the most labour-intensive part of the production process.

Zerowasteneumärz09

ZERO WASTE

OPTIONAL CRITERION

Zero Waste refers to strategically sustainable processes with the goal of producing as little waste as possible and reducing the consumption of CO2, plastics, chemicals and water. The processes can be applied to the entire supply chain. This includes the business model, design model, production, logistics, packaging, and customer service. At least one aspect must be zero waste.

1. Example: Waste-free pattern design (e.g. kimono).
2. Example: Waste-free production (e.g. knitting whole garments) or reuse of sections.
3. Example: Made-to-order production
4. Example: Refillable packaging system
5. Example: Repair service
6. Example: Take-back system

HANDCRAFTED

OPTIONAL CRITERION

At least 50% of the total product range must be handcrafted. Handcrafted products are those that are made by artisans entirely by hand or with the help of hand tools such as needle and thread, loom or other traditional hand tools but without the use of any electric machines. 

1. Example: Hand-woven garment (e.g. tweed or bouclé often seen in Haute Couture collections)
2. Example: Hand-woven basket (the basket may be lined, as the hand-woven part is the most essential part of the product  
3. Example: Hand-knitted garment
4. Example: Handcrafted Jewelry

VEGAN

OPTIONAL CRITERION

At least 50% of the total product range must be vegan. No material, glue or by-product must be related to animals. If applicable, the brand may indicate what percentage of the collection is vegan approved and by which organization, e.g. PETA or Vegan Society or similar.

Charity Social Integration

GIVE BACK

OPTIONAL CRITERION

The brand must donate at least 1% of its profits generated by the sale of the collection or part of the collection to a recognized non-profit organization to support a humanitarian aid, social or environmental project. This can be the promotion and support of women’s, children’s or animal rights, building schools, educational projects, health care, access to safe and clean water, enabling vaccines or a similar project.

1. Example: Black Lives Matter
2. Example: Save The Children
3. Example: Greenpeace
4. Example: Sumatran Orangutan Conversation Programme (SOCP)

BIPOC-LED

OPTIONAL CRITERION

Minimum 50% Black, Indigenous Or Person Of Color must be in leadership role.

FEMALE-LED

OPTIONAL CRITERION

Minimum 50% females must be in leadership role.

CULTURAL SUPPORT

OPTIONAL CRITERION

The brand supports local traditions and communities, democratic politics and education especially in the countries where the brand operates.

LIST OF PROHIBITIONS

THE FOLLOWING PROHIBITIONS APPLY TO ALL BRANDS AND THEIR ENTIRE PRODUCT RANGE!

Prohibited products:

Electronic products (for example electronic diffuser, electronic shaver, electronic tooth brush, lighting etc.)

Horn, Ivory, Coral, Turtle Armature, Tortoiseshell, Nacre

Products for oral intake, food, supplements, dietetic products or the like (exceptions: – toothpaste/tabs, tongue scraper, toothbrush, oil pulling, dental floss)

Rabbit Hair (Angora i.a.)

Real Exotic Skin

Down and/or Feathers from life plucked birds 

Tampons, pads and liners that are not certified organic

– Chemical Sunscreens

– Honey, wax, bee products from beekeepers who do not support and do not help maintain healthy bee colonies

Prohibited chemical inputs:

(These chemical inputs must not be used in all processing stages regardless if applied as a pure substance or as part of a preparation)

Aromatic and Halogenated Solvents (used to create plastics like Polyester, Nylon, PET, PVC or paints/coatings i.a.)

Brominated and Chlorinated Flame Retardants (used as a textile application to reduce flammability i.a.)

Chlorinated Benzenes (used to dissolve other substances during manufacturing and to clean fabrics i.a.)

Dioxin and/or Dioxin-producing Bleach

Chlorophenols including their Salts and Esters (used for dyeing i.a.)

Complexing Agents and Surfactants (used as surface wetting for textile finishing processes to accelerate the penetration of finishing liquors i.a.)

Cyanide (used for mining gold and/or silver i.a.)

Detergents

Endocrine Disruptors

Formaldehyde and other short-chain Aldehydes (used to prevent shrinkage i.a.)

Fungicides and Biocides (used for the protection of textiles, nonwovens, and other materials to avoid mold growth)

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) (Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are plants, animals, and microorganisms which have been altered genetically)

Heavy Metals: Cadmium, Carbon, Lead, Mercury, Nickel, Copper and Chromium (used in certain dyes products and pigments used for textiles and/or accessories. Uses of chromium include certain textile processes, leather tanning, and metal recovery i.a.)

Inputs like Azo Dyes and inorganic Pigments (used for dyeing i.a.)

Inputs containing functional Nanoparticles (used to improve different functionalities of the textiles like water-repellence, dirt-repellence, self-cleaning, UV absorption, i.a.)

Minerals: Asbestos

Organotin Compounds (used in sportswear, socks, and shoes to prevent odor caused by the breakdown of sweat i.a.)

Paraffins (substances and preparations that are prohibited for application in textiles with a recognized internationally or a nationally valid legal character i.a.)

Per- and Polyfluorinated Compounds (PFC) (used for leather and textile products to make them water- and stainproof i.a.)

Petrochemical dyes

Plasticizers (used as a softener for flexibility and durability i.a.)

Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (used as textile softener i.a.)

Short-chain Chlorinated (used as flame retardants and finishing agents for leather and textiles i.a.).

Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH – also known as caustic soda or lye) and Carbon disulfide, hydrolysis alkalization combined with multi-phase bleaching (used to produce rayon made from cellulose fibers. The source of cellulose can be wood, paper, cotton fiber or bamboo i.a.)

Sulfuric Acid

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Exceptions: Caustic soda and carbon disulfide are only permitted in a closed production cycle and if the end product is oeko-tex certified.

Prohibited processes:

Industrial sandblasting, stonewashing

Prohibited content:

No nude photos, pornographic, unnaturally retouched pictures, racist, intolerant, hateful gestures or symbols. No photos that contain text, logos, emoji, stickers, filters, theme frames, watermarks or censor blocks placed over the photos.

References: ifaw.org, CITES, ECOS, Greenpeace.org, European Commission, ECHA/REACH.

The LIST OF PROHIBITIONS is continuously updated. If a hazardous material and/or ingredientand/or chemical input and/or process is not listed, please contact us at info@ecoalphabet.com and we will be sure to follow up.

THE ECO ALPHABET STANDARD IS PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

The ECO ALPHABET standard was created in 2016 by Antonia Böhlke and is copyrighted (including the text and context of the standard). Depending on scientific findings, feedback and industry changes, we continuously improve the standard to set the most sustainable and ethical requirements and to provide the best possible transparent information.

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