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Organic Trade Association Fiber Council working to grow market and problem-solve

Global Organic Textiles Standard roundtable brings stakeholders together

Maggie McNeil
(202) 403-8514
Washington , DC
March 14, 2018
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The Organic Trade Association's Fiber Council recently met in Charleston, SC, for its annual in-person meeting to discuss its 2018 work plan and announce new officers. This meeting took place in conjunction with several exciting Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) events and trainings.


image001.jpg?r=1521044610968The Fiber Council, which held its election earlier in February, announced the results. Outgoing Chair Marci Zaroff, CEO of the brands MetaWear Organic and Under the Canopy and founder of the Organic Fiber Council, passed the leadership baton to Michael Twer, Vice President of Sales and General Manager for Grund America LLC. Meanwhile, Vice Chair Barry Cik, Co-founder and Technical Director of Naturepedic, was succeeded by Angela Wartes-Kahl, Fiber and Textiles Coordinator for Oregon Tilth Certified Organic. Sandra Marquardt, President of On the Mark Public Relations, continues as Secretary.


Both Zaroff and Cik were thanked for their important leadership that was instrumental in the Council’s formation and work to date. In looking forward, council members discussed establishing subcommittees for research, education/communications and membership, and possible projects that such groups could undertake. The Organic Trade Association's Fiber Council is successfully working to strengthen and grow the organic fiber and textiles sector. Convened in 2016, the aim is to create a cohesive voice across fiber categories, and to grow the organic fiber sector.


Following the Council meeting, a one-day Global Organic Textiles Standard regional business meeting drawing 46 participants provided an overview for textile professionals and brands on how world-renowned GOTS certification can deliver trust and transparency to consumers by verifying the organic supply chain; prove social compliance equivalent to any stand-alone fair trade program; and add to companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility platform.


Speakers from the Organic Trade Association--one of the founding organizations of GOTS and co-host of the Roundtable--included Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs Gwendolyn Wyard, Director of International Trade Monique Marez, and Board Member Marci Zaroff. Also speaking were Organic Trade Association member Angela Wartes-Kahl of Oregon Tilth, and Eileen Mockus of Coyuchi.


Wyard talked about how GOTS intersects with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program, while Marez reported on OTA’s recent marketing survey showing why today’s millennial consumer is tomorrow’s organic parent. Best practice examples on how GOTS strengthens the U.S. textile and apparel industry were presented by Zaroff and Mockus, both from U.S. pioneer enterprises. Furthermore, Wartes-Kahl from one of the GOTS accredited third-party certifiers spoke on how to safeguard your company from “Greenwashing” through third-party verification.


“We're experiencing an exciting time of growth and awareness for organic fiber and textiles. The Organic Trade Association is bringing members together to meaningfully represent this sector of organic production so that shoppers can connect the dots between the food we eat and the clothes we wear, and embrace an organic food-to-fashion-and-home lifestyle,” explained Wyard. She added, “It all starts on the farm, and there are environmental and social issues that arise at each step of the supply chain. When you buy GOTS certified products, you are casting a vote for a transparent supply chain that supports socially and environmentally responsible practices.” 



Representatives for organic fiber and textile companies also had the opportunity to take part in a GOTS Training on developing an organic handling plan and preparing facilities for a GOTS inspection held by the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA). The previous week, GOTS representatives from around the world met in South Carolina for their annual meetings, the first ever held in the United States

The number of facilities certified to GOTS grew 8.2 percent from 2016 to reach 5,024 facilities in 2017 in 62 countries around the world. Countries and regions with the largest increase in GOTS certification in 2017 are Bangladesh (up 40 percent), North America (up 39 percent), Portugal (up 39 percent), and Europe (up 29%).

"The growing number of GOTS certifications shows that GOTS is taken as a solution for managing risks, reputation and market differentiation. We are very pleased with the development in North America. It will have the same pull effect as also seen in Europe by creating increasing capacities in the producing countries,” said GOTS Director Claudia Kersten at the GOTS Annual Meeting in Charleston.

In 2017, the 19 GOTS accredited independent Certification Bodies reported more than 1.74 million people work in GOTS certified facilities. 


GOTS is recognized as the world's leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibers. It defines high-level environmental criteria along the entire organic textiles supply chain and requires compliance with social criteria as well. The co-founders and Advisory Council include the Organic Trade Association, The Soil Association (UK), International Association Natural Textile Industry (IVN) (Germany), and the Japan Organic Cotton Association (JOCA).

Photo 1: Pictured left to right: Angela Wartes-Kahl (Oregon Tilth Certified Organic), Michael Twer (Grund America), Marci Zaroff (Outgoing Fiber Council Chair, MetaWear Organic/Under the Canopy), and Sandra Marquardt (On the Mark Public Relations)
Photo 2: Participants in the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) roundtable gather for a group photo.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. OTA is the leading voice for the organic trade in the United States, representing over 9,500 organic businesses across 50 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA's mission is to promote and protect ORGANIC with a unifying voice that serves and engages its diverse members from farm to marketplace.

The Organic Trade Association does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation or marital/family status. Persons with disabilities, who require alternative means for communication of program information, should contact us.