Ethical and organic clothing: ethical fashion explained!

The Boutique Cascades is now carrying a small collection of ethical clothing!

The term ethical fashion is a buzzword in the clothing industry, but what does it really mean? Annie de Grandmont, CEO of La Gaillarde (a retailer specializing in ethical fashion) defines it as: “Garments that are manufactured responsibly and with some environmental awareness. This includes second-hand clothes, recycled clothes, clothes made ​​from organic materials and garments manufactured locally by companies with a solid environmental record.”

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Certified organic?

We should start by pointing out that organic certification applies mainly to clothing made from cotton. Other fibres, such as hemp, can still be eco-friendly without being certified organic.

So how can consumers tell if a garment is really organic? The best way is to check its certification: organic clothing must be certified by a third party such as Québec Vrai or Ecocert. If there is no certification on the garment, it might still be organic—however, it’s impossible to know for sure since the origin of the fibres can’t be traced.*

A certified garment means that the cotton harvested in the field was organic. However, few organic certifications assess the stages of manufacturing after the harvest. That means there is no indication that the working conditions of employees are adequate and that the dyes used are environmentally friendly.

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GOTS certification: exacting standards

GOTS certification is an additional certification that verifies whether the garment in question was made from organic cotton, whether the manufacturing and processing was environmentally friendly and whether the ILO’s international labour standards were respected. GOTS-certified garments are subject to exacting standards throughout the manufacturing process.

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When printing leaves a mark…

Choosing an organic shirt is great, but getting one that was printed in an environmentally friendly manner is even better! Water-based inks don’t contain plastisol, a substance composed mainly of PVC, which is used as a binder and thickener. PVC is widely regarded as the least environmentally friendly type of plastic.

And that’s not the worst of it. Also found in plastisol are toxic heavy metals, which are used to create the desired opacity and colour fastness. It also contains solvents, which are often petroleum-based and carry elevated amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These solvents are used to accelerate the drying process.

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Cascades collection

The Boutique Cascades is now carrying a small collection of ethical clothing! This clothing line is printed with water-based inks sourced from three Quebec companies: Respecterre, Oöm and fibrEthik. Our current favourites are the “Every drop counts” and “My urban forest” t-shirts. Let us know what yours is! We’d also like to hear whether or not you buy ethical clothes.

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* There is no law in Canada that requires finished garments containing organic cotton to be certified. As a result, many retailers can easily sell conventional cotton clothing misleadingly identified as organic cotton. That makes it important to check that the garment—i.e., the finished product—carries the logo of a recognized certification organization.

Source: fibrEthik

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About the Author
Carl Blanchet

Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Laval University and an MBA from Sherbrooke University, Carl has been working for Cascades for the past 17 years. Throughout the years, he has held the positions of plant manager among different Cascades groups. Main character in business development of Cascades, Carl is now in charge of business partners relations and innovation’s strategic development for the company. "My passion is about building partnerships with other organizations to share what we've learned here at Cascades. As one of the leaders in sustainable research and development, it feels great to know we're making a difference!" Carl loves to be involved: he is implicated in his community as CEO for the Centre du Quebec United Way organization as well as a volunteering member of the Hotel-Dieu d’Arthabaska Foundation.

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