Why we Certified our Organic Yarn
Our organic yarns are completely certified according to GOTS, the Global Organic Textile Standard. With GOTS you can be sure that
- the sheep do not have to suffer painful mulesing surgery
- the wool production does not pollute the environment with dangerous chemicals
- the workers are treated fairly
- the yarn is under strict controls for harmful residues
Our wool from Merino sheep comes from Patagonia, one of the most beautiful and in large part untouched landscapes on earth. On our trip through Argentina, Chile, and Tierra del Fuego we saw for ourselves the seemingly endless grasslands and rich wildlife. With our decision for GOTS we and our customers participate actively in the conservation of these natural treasures — not only in Patagonia, but everywhere!
GOTS — Good for Sheep, Good for the Environment, and Good for Humans!
Only Strict Certification Creates Trust
Since the terms "organic" or "eco" are not protected by law for textiles (at least not in Germany), they can be used arbitrarily for labelling products, and unfortunately they can also be abused because there is no means of checking whether these terms are legitimately used. Another problem: You cannot be sure which of the many aspects of a product is supposed to be organic. Often this is only a tiny part of the production chain.
Even if the sheep are kept according to organic farming standards, for example, it is possible that in the production of the yarn the conditions for the workers are unfair or large quantities of chemicals are used. Or perhaps the finished yarn is free from toxic residues, but the sheep had to suffer the distressful mulesing. Or the yarn has been produced in countries where chemicals in residual waters are not filtered before they are released into rivers and lakes, where they can poison humans and pollute nature.
Therefore you should not simply trust nice sounding words!
We decided in favour of a way that really provides a comprehensive international guarantee: the protected seal of the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
GOTS — the Most Ambitious International Organic Certificate for Textiles
Since 2001, Germany has clearly regulated its food labelling practices. Food labelled organic ("Bio") has to be organic and must be certified. There is no comparable labelling standard in the textiles industry.
In Germany, we have about 20 different seals of quality and each has different criteria, as stated in DIE ZEIT at the beginning of 2012 under the headline "Save us from even more labels (Nicht noch mehr Labels)". But the article also recommends: "Real organic quality is only given by a few seals such as the textile seal Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). It includes social standards and is subject to strict and regular inspections."
Greenpeace has also examined the seals and writes about GOTS: "Currently the most ambitious label for the mass market with ecological criteria along the entire textile chain. High trustworthiness. Also takes into account social criteria." And Kirsten Brodde, author of the book "Saubere Sachen: Wie man grüne Mode findet und sich vor Öko-Etikettenschwindel schützt" and campaigner for Greenpeace, writes about GOTS: "It is the best seal we have".
Which Criteria are Checked by GOTS
GOTS is the most comprehensive organic textile certificate worldwide.
Important GOTS criteria relevant for our yarn are for example:
- the sheep are kept according to organic farming standards and no mulesing or treatment with pesticides is used
- minimum wages and standardised working hours are met, workers are not exposed to pollution at the workplace, and they are allowed to form unions, child labour is prohibited
- all chemicals and substances used during the production must not pollute the environment, in particular heavy metals and chlorine have to be avoided for dyeing, bleaching, and for making the wool machine washable (see our test results on heavy metals)
- energy consumption is controlled during production and residual waters are cleaned professionally
- the finished yarn is under strict controls concerning chemical residues that might cause allergies or even cancer
- the wool must not have contact with harmful substances or materials such as PVC during transport or storage
- chemicals against moths must not be used, because they might contain the neurotoxic substance permethrin
You can find a good summary of all GOTS criteria on the GOTS website.
Who Checks the Rosy Green Wool Yarns and How Often
Similar to organic food, there are certification organisations for organic textiles that conduct on-site inspections of the production once a year. In addition, there can be unannounced inspections at any time of the year. During the inspections, the certifiers check whether a company or producer fulfils all required criteria. The GOTS certificate is not just assigned once and forever, but can be withdrawn immediately when some of the criteria are not met. This method guarantees highest trustworthiness.
Our certification organisation is CERES, which, besides GOTS, also certifies food according to the standards of Demeter, Naturland, or Bio Suisse.
Our entire production chain, from South America to England to Germany is inspected regularly by the certification organisation and their worldwide partner institutions. This way we can guarantee that not only Rosy Green Wool as a German company, but also all our suppliers and producers (sheep farmers, wool supplier, spinning mill, dyer, fulfilment, storage etc.) and the finished yarn strictly meet the GOTS criteria.
We are Even Stricter than GOTS
It took a long time to find the partners that share our attitude concerning sustainability and quality.
With the support of our wool supplier and the longtime experience of our spinning mill and dyer in the production of organic yarns, we were able to make our criteria even stricter than demanded by GOTS:
- Even though GOTS would allow the mixture with non-organic fibres in minor quantities, we decided to produce our yarn from 100% organic Merino wool. So our customers can be 100% sure.
- In addition, we avoid copper completely for dyeing, even when allowed by GOTS in small amounts. Copper is a toxic heavy metal, has an extremely harmful effect on many natural organisms, and can cause allergies in humans.
- Many people think, for example, that plant colours are particularly natural or environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, environmentally poisonous substances such as copper, tin, or chromate can also be used for dyeing with plant colours in order to make them more durable. Since Rosy Green Wool uses only GOTS-approved colours for dyeing, our customers do not need to worry about this. Our test results on heavy metals, conducted by the Bremer Umweltinstitut, can be downloaded here.
- Our wool is machine washable, which is a technical novelty for GOTS-certified wool. The traditional method for making wool machine washable needs half a ton of chemicals per ton of wool, among those also many chlorides, and produces 17.000 litres of residual water. Much of the wool traded worldwide is produced in countries where it is possible that dioxin, which is obtained from chlorine, poisons workers and the environment. Our wool is not treated with chlorine at all, but still offers the same properties: no felting or losing form when the gentle cycle in the washing machine is used.