Want to Shop Ethically? Five Labels to Know

shop ethically by looking for these labels: oeko-tex, certified vegan, bluesign, better cotton and leaping bunny

Whether you’re just starting to dip your toes into sustainability, or you’ve been an eco-fashion enthusiast for years, ethical shopping can seem overwhelming.  There’s a ton of information available on fabrics, production processes, dyes and more. But what does it all mean?  Not to mention, navigating greenwashing is always a challenge.  With just a glance, these five labels can tell you if the brand you’re shopping is making an effort at ethical practices.

Better Cotton

You might have heard about the troubling labor practices and tons of wasted water that can be involved with typical cotton production.  But cotton marked with the Better Cotton label is traced from farm to gin to lessen these and other harmful effects.  The initiative focuses on ensuring fair pay, preserving cotton quality, enhancing soil and biodiversity of cotton farms, reducing pesticides, and supporting better water practices. All this helps you shop ethically! So, if you love the feel of soft, breathable cotton on your skin, Better Cotton has you covered.


This label’s one you might not recognize right off the bat.  Focusing on textile production, bluesign® aims to keep harmful chemicals out of the process without losing product quality, functionality, or design.  Why is this important?  Do a quick Google search of, “toxic chemicals used in textile production” and find out for yourself.  (Spoiler: the first one that came up for me was Formaldehyde!)

Certified Vegan 

This one seems easy enough, right?  Vegan is typically understood as a product that doesn’t use any animal ingredients or by-products.  So, what does it mean to be Certified Vegan?  It means a product isn’t just vegan at the time of purchase; but no animals were affected by the manufacturing process or in post-production testing.  Think of checking for this one when you’re shopping for vegan leather, beauty products, wellness products, and food.

Leaping Bunny

You can think of Leaping Bunny as the gold standard against cosmetic animal testing.  To earn this approval, brands must renew their commitment every year. And submit to audits to ensure their products are free from animal testing at all stages of development.  Ingredient suppliers must commit to cruelty-free practices, too, so all the bases are covered.  Beware though: there are a lot of “cruelty-free” labels out there that don’t have all the same guarantees as Leaping Bunny. So be sure to screenshot this label to have it on hand next time you’re looking for that perfect lip shade!


Now that you know about all the nasty chemicals that can be in textiles, Oeko-Tex® is another label to keep a lookout for!  Oeko-Tex® aims to keep out not only legally forbidden chemicals, but any that might possibly be harmful to your health.  Just a few categories they test for include pesticides, heavy metals, and colorants.  Oeko-Tex® has six different labels that can be achieved, including: MADE IN GREEN, STANDARD 100, LEATHER STANDARD, STeP, DETOX TO ZERO, and ECO PASSPORT.  But not to be confused, they all support responsible manufacturing!

–Natalie LaBarbera