Perspectives on greener product development and manufacturing from Sustainable Minds, our partners, customers and contributors.

Make sense of your eco certifications

By Lorne Craig on January 23, 2009

These days, many corporate web sites are fairly bursting with well-intentioned fair trade, certified organic, sustainable supply-chain certification symbols. Looks great, but what does it all mean? Last week I got an e-catalogue from local clothing company Eco Apparel that answered that question. Eco Apparel is a Vancouver-based clothing manufacturer who really puts their sustainability where their mouth is. From recycled-content fabrics to responsible procurement, they work hard to do it right. They also boast their fair share of certifications – Bluesign, Intertek, 1% for the Planet, CSR Corporate Social Responsibility – as well as claims of certified yarns and fair-trade manufacturing.

But unlike many of their competitors, they didn’t just throw another badge on to their home page. On the back of their new product catalogue is a chart that graphically depicts a simplified version of their supply-chain, showing at each stage the effects of the appropriate certification or claim. (To see a larger version visit and click on the Environmental Standard link.) At a glance, a potential customer can see that Eco Apparel really considers every step of the process. And the fact that they take the time to illustrate their behind-the-scenes production speaks volumes about the transparency and honesty of the company. I would even recommend they take it a step further with an animated YouTube version. It would be a great educational piece for up-and-coming clothing designers and corporate buyers. Not to mention setting the bar that much higher for their competitors. Does your company boast any eco-certification? Do your customers or staff know what they mean? Do you?

Image credit: Lorne Craig