Many people believe that OEKO-TEX is an ecological certification because of its name, which has an environmental reference (OEKO is eco in German). However, that is not the case. OEKO-TEX is a health certification. A major criticism for this certification is what it considers to be a non-harmful textile or substance. Let us take the example of cotton bed linen. Cotton textiles are responsible for about 25% of pesticide use worldwide, not to mention organic fertilizers, insecticides, and defoliants, so traditional cotton bed linen is extremely polluting. GMO cotton makes up the majority of conventional cotton, disrupting the biodiversity balance.
Cotton, in its traditional form, is the most water-intensive fiber on the planet. Many textile-producing countries also spill traditional cotton dyeing and finishing materials into rivers and groundwater. Endocrine disruptors and carcinogenic compounds are also present in dyeing and printing materials that have been approved for sale in Europe. All the variants mentioned above have been certified as non-harmful under STANDARD 100. OEKO-TEX certainly certifies that the garment is safe for human use (except for endocrine disruptors and certain substances that may cause cancer). However, OEKO-TEX does not promise that textiles are environmentally friendly or healthy.
In the end, considering the true purpose of OEKO-TEX as a health certification rather than an ecological one, conscious shoppers must remind themselves about its efficiency in regards to human safety and its unreliability in regards to environmental safety.