New Organic Textile Standards Ban Use of Angora, Virgin Polyester

We're not always a fan of banning things, but sometimes bans work out in favor of the greater good. The Global Organic Textile Standard International Working Group (also known as GOTS, for those who just don't have the time), has updated its rules for organic textiles, and they've banned some pretty popular fabrics this time around.

A little background: GOTS, as the name implies, is a standard for fabrics made from organic fibers. In order to be GOTS-certified, fabric must comply with stringent environmental as well as social criteria. And don't think you can slip much past GOTS; every point of the organic textiles supply chain must comply with the standards (we're talking spinning, knitting, weaving, dyeing, and manufacturing). GOT it?

On Monday, the GOTS International Working Group released version 4.0 of their standards for fabrics made from certified organic natural fibers; that is, fabrics made from 70 percent organic natural fibers, which get a label of "made with organic," and fabrics with 95 percent, which get to call themselves straight "organic." Among other updates, the new GOTS standards decree that two fabrics are officially out: virgin polyester and angora.

These days, recycled polyester is too wildly available to justify the use of the virgin stuff, according to Marcus Bruegel, GOTS Technical Director. As you might guess, recycled polyester has a lower carbon footprint than virgin polyester, and helps keep plastic bottles out of landfills. No contest there.

But what about angora? "The ban is a consequence of the mostly unacceptable animal husbandry conditions of angora rabbits,” says Bruegel. As with much fur production, the angora fur industry is unbelievably cruel. The soft, gentle rabbits have their fur ripped from their skin several times during their short, abused lives; an undercover video released by PETA shows the poor bunnies actually screaming as they're plucked and sheared. Dangerously enough, 90 percent of the world's angora wool comes from China, where, according to PETA, there are "no penalties for abuse of animals on farms and no standards to regulate the treatment of the animals."

Of course, the bans on angora and virgin polyester don't apply to everyone — just those who abide by GOTS regulations. But more angora bunnies in the wild and a fewer plastic bottles in landfills sounds like a fair enough start.