bluesign: Clear and transparent environmental standards for outdoor clothing

Bluesign

You have seen or heard about it many times: Functional clothing with the bluesign label! Companies that would like to attach the bluesign seal to their products must meet some very strict requirements. The system takes into account the entire production process, from materials and production all the way down to the finished product with the aim of making fabric production environmentally friendly.
It is not surprising then, that outdoor brands who keep environmental protection and sustainability close to their hearts also have certified bluesign products. Lovers of Alpinetrek will find plenty of great products that meet these standards, including Vaude, Patagonia, Maloja and Qloom.

The aim of the bluesign standard

The criterion for the certification are quite broad. Instead of just testing the end product in a lab to meet the minimum legal requirements, it begins much earlier. The bluesign Technologies AG has created a clear, systematic procedure that includes anything and everything to do with the end product - the functional fabrics.
This begins before the actual production: The raw materials used by the companies to create the fabric. That is why the suppliers are assessed, and a lot of different factors are noted, like the energy, chemical and water usage as well as the working conditions in the factories.

How this is implemented in greater detail

Each individual step is assessed using the five bluesign principles. These are resource productivity, consumer safety, water emission, air emission and occupational health & safety. In the next step, each principle is applied using different criterion. For the contents of the fabrics, for the finishing process used to produce and further process these products as well as for the final products.
What that really means:

  • Tests are done to see if the raw materials as well as the energy used are actually sustainable and if the processes are done efficiently.
  • What about the effects of chemicals on the environment? Is there a health risk associated for the consumer? This was a very real and unavoidable problem with using certain additives for water repellent clothing in the past.
  • Lots of water is needed in textile production. That is why water protection is an important thing. Is water used sparingly with the raw materials? Is the waste water recycled?
  • The same goes for emissions. Are these prevented as much as possible throughout the entire production process? Is the used air filtered?
  • The word sustainable does not purely relate to ecological standards. Sustainable working conditions and therefore work safety are therefore the fifth principle. Workers in these factories are regularly educated, and adherence to the rules is regularly checked.

Something else the consumer should know

There are two possible markings on the products: bluesign product and bluesign approved fabric. A bluesign product not only relates to the fabric used to make it, but also the buttons, strap buckles, zips and drawstrings. The suppliers as well as their factories are tested for meeting all of the criteria. A bluesign approved fabric meets 90% or more of the requirements.
The standard is generally considered very strict, and a clear advantage of this is the transparency and credibility. This information is accessible and transparent, so these standards can help even smaller companies reduce their ecological footprint.

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