Green Product Evaluation: A How-to Guide
My last post (on October 15) profiled O Ecotextiles, a new company fiercely committed to producing fabrics that are indulgent yet responsible, opulent yet organic, sensuous yet sustainable.
Yes, those are its taglines, but there’s a lot of legitimacy behind the clever phrasing.
O Ecotextile’s founders Patty Grossman and Leigh Ann Van Dusen have extensively studied textiles and their production. Many of their conclusions are collected in an essay, “Make Your Textile Choices Greener for Your Company, Home and Store,” published on the Sustainable Furniture Council’s website.
The paper is a model for how to evaluate the greenness of all sorts of products. It includes definitions, ecological concerns and impacts on human health while examining the entire life cycle of fabrics. Water, for example, is used in every stage of textile production and its impact can be profound. One of the best quotes in the essay: “There is not a ‘no peeing’ part of the swimming pool. We’re all downstream.”
The authors also present the case against our most two commonly used fabrics: conventionally grown cotton and petroleum based synthetics. Not all are bad choices but it’s useful to know what to look for – antimony-free recycled polyester – and what to avoid and why.
There’s an emphasis on certifications, including a handy table listing all that are applicable to textiles. Some are familiar such as Cradle-to-Cradle and Greenguard, while others are less well known. GOTS (The Global Organic Textile Standard), for example, is an emerging effort to clarify the confusion caused by various existing standards.
Holistic thinking – taking into account the economic, environmental and health effects of products – is a process that should apply to all your product selections. Ms. Grossman and Van Dusen have shown us how.