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Apparel industry leaders team up, for green’s sake


Have you ever really looked at your clothes and wondered how they were made? And then go a step further… and wonder how the creation of your favorite article of clothing affected the environment?  Isn’t it strange that there aren’t any regulations on how clothes are made?  Especially since most of the apparel industry is produced globally…

Well, that’s about to change.

They call themselves the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and include

…leading apparel and footwear brands, retailers, manufacturers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic experts, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency…

from companies like:

Adidas, Arvind Mills, C&A, Duke University, Environmental Defense Fund, Esprit, Esquel, Gap Inc., H&M, HanesBrands, Intradeco, JC Penney, Lenzing, Levi Strauss & Co., Li & Fung, Marks & Spencer, Mountain Equipment Co-op, New Balance, Nike, Nordstrom, Otto Group, Outdoor Industry Association, Patagonia, Pentland Brands, REI, TAL Apparel, Target, Timberland, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Verité, VF Corp, and Walmart.

The new Coalition formally debuted today, and announced that their goal is

…to lead the industry toward a shared vision of sustainability built on an industry-wide index for businesses to use to measure and evaluate apparel and footwear product sustainability performance.

The NYTimes article explains this in layman terms:

The coalition’s tool is meant to be a database of scores assigned to all the players in the life cycle of a garment — cotton growers, synthetic fabric makers, dye suppliers, textile mill owners, as well as packagers, shippers, retailers and consumers — based on a variety of social and environmental measures like water and land use, energy efficiency, waste production, chemical use, greenhouse gases and labor practices.

Jeffrey Swartz, CEO of Timberland explains how this relates to the consumer,

“…This will ultimately put the power in the hands of the consumers, because the apparel industry is saying out loud, ‘We’re going to find a way to disclose to you what’s behind this purchase decision — beyond color, size and fit.’ ”

From a supply chain with no regulation, to allowing the consumer to have all of this information disclosed…is pretty awesome.

Similarly to learning how my favorite  restaurant in NYC was graded, I’m a tad nervous to learn the truth about the clothing supply chain… only because I know that what we’ll learn won’t be pretty.

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