EcoSki Glossary of terms
Our belief at EcoSki is that as consumers, we may not be perfect but we can do the best we can to make conscious choices, and that means informed choices. In this time of increasing climate change awareness, many companies are working towards meeting customer demand for more ‘planet friendly’ products. This has spawned a wide range of materials, terms, labels and logos – but what do they all mean? Below is our own interpretation of a few. The list is certainly not exhaustive, it will be added to as and when. As always, we welcome any feedback or comments.
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) is a global not-for-profit organisation and the largest cotton sustainability programme in the world. It seeks to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in and better for the sector’s future. Look out for it on the label when buying cotton to make a positive choice.
bioRe® is an organic cotton brand developed by the bioRe® Foundation, which promotes organic farming, fair trading, and non-toxic textile production. Besides preserving natural resources, the Foundation conducts participatory cotton seed research to develop non-GMO organic cotton cultivars. As the exclusive licensee of bioRe®, Remei AG gives bioRe® cotton farmers a purchase guarantee and pays a 15 percent premium for their efforts in organic production. Remei-produced textiles are CO2-neutral. It is used in Mammut’s casanna range.
Carbon offsetting could mean using regeneration processes, like donating a portion of sales to plant trees, or even investing in carbon neutral shipping. Buying local and, for food, in season, is one way to reduce your carbon footprint. A growing number of companies, particularly airlines, offer individuals the chance to offset their carbon footprint.
Econyl® is regenerated nylon made from waste such as fishing nets and industrial waste from landfills and oceans, which would otherwise pollute the Earth. It’s used in skiwear from brands EcoSki stocks, such as Patagonia. It was developed by Aquafil and 2021 sees Econyl® celebrating its 10th anniversary. Econyl® is exactly the same as brand new nylon and can be recycled again and again – closing the loop and delivering sustainable products.
Fairtrade You’ve probably heard about fair trade before or have seen certifications on products at the supermarket.
Fair trade refers to the general movement, which encompasses many different organisations with the shared aim of supporting producers and protecting workers’ rights and the environment. Fair trade describes a brand or an individual product that has been certified and labelled by an independent organisation because it meets certain standards. Fairtrade, on the other hand, specifically refers to the certifying and labelling organisation Fairtrade International. Fairtrade International is an independent, non-profit organisation that works to connect disadvantaged farmers and workers with consumers, promote fairer trading conditions and empower farmers and workers to combat poverty, strengthen their position and take more control over their lives.
Fair Wear Foundation (FWF) is a non-profit organisation that works with garment brands, factories, trade unions, NGOs and governments to improve working conditions for garment workers in 11 production countries across Asia, Europe and Africa.
Global warming is the long-term heating of Earth’s climate system observed since the pre-industrial period (between 1850 and 1900) due to human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere. The term is frequently used interchangeably with the term climate change, though the latter refers to both human- and naturally produced warming and the effects it has on our planet. It is most commonly measured as the average increase in Earth’s global surface temperature. Source:NASA
The NSF™ Global Traceable Down Standard (Global TDS) ensures that down in apparel, household, and commercial products comes from a responsible source that respects animal welfare and can be fully and transparently traced. Originally developed by outdoor brand Patagonia, the standard is now managed by NSF International (National Sanitation Foundation), an American product testing, inspection and certification organisation.
The Global Recycled Standard (GRS) is an international, voluntary, full product standard that sets requirements for third-party certification of Recycled Content, chain of custody, social and environmental practices, and chemical restrictions. The goal of the GRS is to increase use of Recycled materials in products and reduce/eliminate the harm caused by its production. It provides assurance that materials in the final product are actually Recycled and processed more sustainably. The Global Recycled Standard is intended for use with any product that contains at least 20% Recycled Material.
GOTS is a textile production certification that limits the use of toxic bleaches, dyes and other chemical inputs during the production process of textiles.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.
Microscopic pieces of plastic that are released every time our synthetic clothes are put in the washing machine. Each time we run our machine, hundreds of thousands of microfibres are flushed down the drain. Many reach oceans and beaches where they can remain for hundreds of years. They are also swallowed by fish and other sea life then travel up the food chain and end up on our plates. It is estimated by the IUCN Report that up to 31% of marine plastic pollution comes from tiny particles released from households and industrial products as opposed to larger plastic items that degrade once they reach the sea. Of this they estimate 35% comes from washing synthetic textiles.
A type of non toxic viscose/rayon fabric. It’s production isn’t quite as toxic but can still lead to deforestation.
Monocel is a yarn made from lyocell bamboo fibre and works as an eco-friendly alternative to conventional cotton.
Naturetexx Plasma is a technology for easy-care merino used by brands such as Point 6. Powered by renewable energy8, with air and electricity as its raw materials, it is the ecological alternative to chlorine-based chemical treatments for wool to make it machine washable.
When the amount of greenhouse gas produced equals the amount removed from the atmosphere. Net zero is important as it’s the best way to tackle global warming.
When the amount of greenhouse gas removed from the atmosphere is greater than what is produced.
Non Toxic literally means ‘not poisonous or toxic’, but in terms of product labelling, it is unregulated and often used as a marketing term. While it is a good place to start, look for more information to inform your choice.
An NGO (non-governmental organisation) is a non-profit group that functions independently of any government. NGOs, sometimes called civil societies, are organised on community, national and international levels to serve a social or political goal such as humanitarian causes or the environment. An ENGO (environmental non-governmental organisation) is an NGO in the field of environmentalism, with well-known examples being Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund for Nature.
A general term for materials made from naturally occurring substances. They are biodegradable.
Oeko-Tex is a worldwide consistent, independent testing and certification system which ensures chemical use is in line or surpassing national and international standards.
Organic Cotton Accelerator is a global platform committed to bringing integrity, supply security and measurable social and environmental impact to organic cotton. Organic Cotton Accelerator is the only multi-stakeholder organisation fully dedicated to organic cotton. See also Cotton / Organic Cotton.
Based upon the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS), which is a voluntary standard that addresses the welfare of sheep and the land they graze on, the OWP takes an even more extensive approach. The regular OWP audits focus upon animal welfare, farm and land management, and slaughter and transport. More than 60 indicators are checked regularly on the farms by a certified, independent auditor. These include a ban on mulesing, which is the practice of removing parts of a sheep’s skin from its tail area to prevent flystrike.
Bottles made from a type of plastic called PET, or Polyethylene terephthalate, which is derived from crude oil and natural gas, used for drinks and many other products. They take up to 450 years to biodegrade. They are fully recyclable, and can even be made into clothing, such as by Dinoski and Patagonia.
Recycled plastic fibres are still a preferable to virgin oil-based fibres as they use much fewer resources in their manufacturing and do not further deplete fossil-based resources. Alternatives to plastic are emerging, known as bioplastics (biopolymers derived from renewable sources such as cellulose, vegetable fats and oils, corn, pea or potato starch, sugars from sugar cane and sugar beets), but these still represent only a tiny proportion of the market.
PFC is an abbreviation for two related sets of chemicals, perfluorinated chemicals and polyfluorinated chemicals. They include hundreds of substances which are great at repelling water, dirt and oil, making them ideal for durable water-repellent finishes (DWR) on outdoor clothing. However, released into the air during manufacturing and during their use, PFCs can be harmful to humans and the environment. PFCs are not natural and they break down very slowly, making it easy for their concentration to build up over time in our bodies, in rivers, the soil, and the snow. PFC waterproofing technologies are available or are in development. GoreTex have introduced their own PFC free version and their goal is to be 100% PFC free by 2023. Teflon EcoElite™, used by skiwear brand Picture is another fabulous alternative. Being PFC free was our initial bottom line requirement. We do however still include one range with PFC’s. Please read their DWR article here. We hugely admire and respect Patagonia’s transparency and we fully support them on their mission to find an alternative they are confident will be just as durable and efficient.
While polyester uses petrochemical products, recycled polyester uses PET as the raw material, and is often called rPET. Patagonia was a pioneer in using clear plastic bottles (made from PET) in its outerwear (since 1993). Dinoski’s children’s snowsuits are made from 22 recycled plastic bottles. Recycled polyester not only cuts the number of plastic bottles ending up in landfill, it uses 30-50% less energy to produce. While it is still essentially derived from oil and does not biodegrade, it is a preferred fabric in terms of sustainability.
Not harmful to the planet.
Raw materials are sourced from specific suppliers which meet environmental and social responsibility standards; transparent sourcing, i.e. the consumer knows where their product has been sourced from.
A product that is made by workers treated fairly, in factories that aim to minimise the environmental and social impact of their manufacturing.
A renewable resource has an endless supply, such as solar energy, wind energy, and geothermal pressure. Examples of renewable sources used in the textile industry include starches, sugars, and lipids derived from corn, sugar cane, sugar beets, and plant oils.
REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals). Implemented in 2007, it is an EU legislation designed to protect consumers, wildlife and the environment against the use of hazardous chemicals. Textile (and all other) manufacturers must comply with this legislation to be able to import and sell products within the EU.
According to ChemTrust, a charity that aims to ensure that chemicals which cause harm to humans or the environment are substituted with safer alternatives, identifies two particularly important issues outstanding in REACH: 1) how hormone disrupting chemicals are treated under the authorisation procedure and 2) the agreement of criteria for a chemical to be considered to have endocrine disrupting properties. ChemTrust also states that “REACH also does not adequately deal with the potential mixture effect, whereby several substances which act on the same target organs may add together to cause effects, even when each substance by itself is below the level expected to show effects.
Recycled cotton prevents additional textile waste and requires far fewer resources than conventional or organic cotton. This makes it a great sustainable option. Cotton can be recycled using old garments or textile leftovers. The quality of the cotton however is often much lower than new cotton. Recycled cotton is therefore usually blended with new cotton. The production of recycled cotton is still very limited.
Recycled down is goose and duck down that is reclaimed from cushions, bedding and other used items that can’t be resold - and thus ends up in landfill - and used as insulation in clothing such as winter or ski jackets. EcoSki features many ski jackets insulated with recycled down, see Patagonia, Amundsen, Mammut and Marmot. Recycled down not only has a lower environmental impact, it is also avoids using down obtained from inhumane farming practices such as live plucking and force feeding.
The Responsible Down Standard ensures that down and feathers come from ducks and geese that have been treated well. This means enabling them to live healthy lives, express innate behaviours, and not suffer from pain, fear or distress. The standard also follows the chain of custody from farm to product, so consumers can be confident that the down and feathers in the products they choose are truly RDS. The Responsible Down Standard is an independent, voluntary global standard, which means that companies can choose to certify their products to the RDS.
The Responsible Wool Standard is a voluntary standard that addresses the welfare of sheep and the land they graze on. The goals of the Responsible Wool Standard are to provide the industry with a tool to recognise the best practices of farmers; ensuring that wool comes from farms that have a progressive approach to managing their land, practice holistic respect for animal welfare of the sheep and respect the Five Freedoms of animal welfare.
Regenerative Organic Farming methods aim to build healthy soil which helps draw carbon back into the ground. It is championed by brands such as Patagonia. Conventional agriculture using industrial techniques contributes up to 25% of the emissions driving the climate crisis. Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) is a certification for food, fibre, and personal care ingredients. ROC farms and products meet the highest standards for soil health, animal welfare, and farmworker fairness.
REPREVE is a fibre made from recycled materials (including plastic bottles), not only reducing the amount of plastic going into landfill but also emitting fewer greenhouse gases and conserving water and energy in the process. It is used by leading global brands to make athletic and fashion apparel and more. It offers properties like wicking, adaptive warming and cooling, water repellency, and more at the fibre level.
Recycled polyamide is a material that has been recycled from waste, such as old fishing nets, carpets, and waste from the manufacturing industry. Polyamide is a synthetic fabric made from strings of polyamide monomers (extracted from crude oil), such as nylon.
Recyclable means ‘able to be recycled’. It is important to check the label, as often parts but not all of a product or packaging are recyclable. In addition, local recycling facilities vary.
Rayon is made from plants but is not eco-friendly because of it’s toxic production and the deforestation associated with it. These tough plant materials are broken down through a chemical and mechanical process involving sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide into a viscous liquid that is then spun into threads using sulfuric acid!
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition's vision is of an apparel, footwear, and textiles industry that produces no unnecessary environmental harm and has a positive impact on the people and communities associated with its activities.
It has developed a suite of tools called The Higg Index that enables brands, retailers, and facilities of all sizes — at every stage in their sustainability journey — to accurately measure and score a company or product’s social or environmental sustainability performance.
Sugar cane fabric is made from a waste product of sugar production, bagasse, which is processed to produce textile rayon fibres such as viscose, modal and lyocell. Although the fabric is derived from organically occurring polymers, the chemicals, water and energy used in processing have a significant environmental impact and sugarcane farming often contributes to deforestation. However, sugar cane fabric uses a biological process to produce the fibres, rather than harmful chemicals, and has a has a much lower energy consumption.
Du Pont Sorona is a fabric derived from sugarcane and used in clothing and carpets. DuPont’s Bio-PDO compound turns a formerly chemical process into an eco-efficient biological one, with significantly lower energy use (30-40%) and greenhouse gas emissions (56-63%) than nylon production. At present, 37% of the polymer is made using annually renewable plant-based ingredients.
Schoeller Textil AG specialises in the sustainable development and production of innovative textiles and textile technologies, used, for example, by outdoor and skiwear brand Amundsen. A BlueSign-accredited company, one example of its product is schoeller®-ecodye, a specially developed auxiliary concept for polyester (PES) dyeing processes which uses less time, less water, and less energy.
Sustainability means ‘Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.’ It also means not producing anything that the planet can’t naturally reabsorb. This means using natural materials, renewable energy and plastic-free packaging, and many skiwear and clothing brands are already delivering products that meet some or all of these standards. All the brands at EcoSki have been selected because they are not only reputable, fashionable and of the highest performance, but they also care about their environmental and social impact.
With the textile industry being the second biggest polluter in the world, every step towards sustainability is essential. The industry faces four main challenges: water consumption and contamination (in the production and washing of clothing); energy emissions (in the production of synthetic fabrics, for example, and in consumer clothes care); chemical usage (fertilisers and pesticides used in the production of raw materials like cotton); and waste creation (the levels of textiles that are incinerated or sent to landfill are enormous).
Set by the UN (United Nations), the Sustainable Development Goals or Global Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked goals designed to be a "blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all”.
Lyocell is a type of Tencel and is arguably the most eco-friendly type of rayon. It’s a fibre extracted from sustainably grown eucalyptus using a unique closed-loop system which recovers and reuses the solvents used, minimising the environmental impact of production. It is gentle against the skin and efficient at moisture-wicking, making it ideal for underwear and baselayers.
Textile Exchange is a global non-profit organisation which aims to minimise the harmful impacts of the global textile industry and maximise its positive effects by inspiring and equipping people to accelerate sustainable practices in the textile value chain. Working closely with all sectors of the textile supply network, Textile Exchange identifies and shares best practices regarding farming, materials, processing, traceability, and product end-of-life in order to create positive impacts on water, soil, air, animals, and the human population created around the world by the textile industry. Members include 210 companies and organisations from more than 25 countries. It is also a useful resource for consumers looking to find out more about sustainable fabrics.
Teflon EcoElite™ is the world’s first plant-based textile repellent, used by brands such as Picture for outerwear. It is a bio-based and non-fluorinated stain repellent technology that repels water and water-based stains and doesn’t impact feel or breathability. Teflon EcoElite™ finish is also up to three times more durable than other non-fluorinated, water-repellent finishes. Because many of its ingredients can be regrown and replaced over time, its production leaves a smaller environmental footprint.
If you are not vegan but are concerned with animal welfare, you can opt for animal-derived materials that are certified as ethically produced. For example, the merino base layers we stock at EcoSki, are made from ethically-derived wool, such as from Icebreaker. Look for ethical or ZQ-certified wool. Only growers who meet strict standards of animal welfare, environmental sustainability, fibre quality, traceability, and social responsibility are awarded the ZQ certification. It is used by brands such as Mons Royale.
Artificial or synthetic leather often made from polyurethane but can also be made from more sustainable materials such as pineapple leaves, cork, apple peels, other fruit waste and recycled plastic.
ZQ is a wool certification standard for ethically produced wool. Only growers who meet strict standards of animal welfare, environmental sustainability, fibre quality, traceability, and social responsibility are awarded the ZQ certification. It is used by brands such as Mons Royale.
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