Organic (and other) Certification
Organic standards - and the way consumer products are produced - matter very much to an ever-growing number of people. If you've clicked on this page, the chances are you've made a conscious decision to find toys or gifts for your little ones, that are made with organic fabrics.
We set a criteria that the main outer fabrics of all the toys we stock must have been grown to organic standards. On a personal level and as a retailer, the environmental, wildlife and human benefits of buying organic are important to us.
Therefore, on each toy's page of this site, we've included a section that details where - and how ethically - the toys were produced. Without wanting the toys' descriptions to become too cumbersome, we've put together here on this separate page, a quick rundown of the types of organic (and other) certifications that are mentioned on the toys' pages.
Explaining organic standards and certification organisations...
There are several main organic standards. These standards set out the strict criteria that must be adhered to - and be verified as having been adhered to - for organic certification to be awarded.
The most basic level of organic cotton certification will confirm that, at crop stage, the fibres have been grown to organic standards. The highest level of certification covers all manufacturing processes to achieve the end product.
Different organic organisations carry out inspections and, upon compliance with a particular organic standard, they'll then issue the relevant certification.
Here's an overview of some of the main standards and certifying bodies for cotton fibres and textiles generally...
Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS)
This is widely recognised as the world's leading organic standard for processing textiles that are made from at least 70% organic fibres.
The GOTS certification has stringent requirements which cover every step of the supply chain from the harvest of the organic fibres through the entire production process, including any other chemical processes carried out during manufacturing. Any dyes, optical brighteners, or any other chemicals that are used, must meet the GOTS criteria.
This standard also covers social responsibility to workers and the impact of the manufacturing processes on the environment. For workers, this includes no child labour, living wages and working hours that aren't excessive. Working conditions must be safe and hygienic, with freely chosen and regular employment, no discrimination and no harsh or inhumane treatment.
If you'd like to read the full scope of the GOTS requirements, you can find details here.
CERTIFICATION ORGANISATIONS (and the organic standards they each endorse):
An international organic certification organisation, covering GOTS and IVN organic standards for the processing of textiles.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
This is a certification organisation which uses the GOTS criteria for certifying processed textiles (from the post-harvest stage onwards) as organic.
National Organic Program (NOP )
This is the USDA's organic standard that covers the crop stages of certifying organic cotton fibres, from seed to harvest. An end textile product which has both NOP and GOTS certification can be established as being produced entirely to organic standards, from crop to end product.
Explaining Oeko-Tex 100 certification..
The very first thing to clarify about Oeko-Tex is that it is NOT an organic certification, although it's often used alongside, or in tandem with, organic certification and this can lead to misconceptions.
If a textile has been Oeko-Tex tested, all it means is that it's been tested to not contain the top 100 harmful chemicals. To shine a very blue light on this, it could - potentially - contain the 101st worst chemical.
Furthermore, if the environmental impact of a product is important to you, Oeko-Tex doesn't provide any assurance that any of the top 100 nasties have been present prior to Oeko-Tex testing.
For example, a cotton T-shirt, made from conventionally grown cotton fibres, can be awarded Oeko-Tex testing which will show that none of the worst 100 chemicals were present at the time of testing. However, as those fibres weren't organically grown, there's a very high likelihood that as a crop, they were heavily sprayed with toxic pesticides and were grown with petro-chemical based fertiliser. Prior to testing, these would have had to be very vigorously washed out. So there's no guarantee that that T-shirt's history even remotely squeaky-clean, even if the end product might superficially be.
The only way to formally have confirmation that a textile has been grown without pollutant or harmful chemicals is by organic certification.
You might then wonder what's the point in organic fabrics having Oeko-Tex certification too. Basically, in the case of our toys and linens, it tends to be to bridge a gap between the earlier organic certification stage and the production of the end product.
If a fabric bought by a manufacturer is certified as being organically grown, that doesn't then cover other processes that follow, such as dyeing. Oeko-tex certification is then lets you know that the further manufacturing processes haven't then gone on to introduce toxic or pollutant chemicals which might otherwise remain in the end product.