Apparel Competitors Unite
These days, there are countless apparel manufacturers and labels out there that make their own unique eco-conscious claims. Problem is, nobody’s really on the same page on what truly constitutes an environmentally-friendly product. So what’s a consumer to believe? How can they make informed purchasing decisions when every company uses a different scorecard?
The answer is collaboration. Toward this end, an industry-wide group of leading brands, retailers, manufacturers, non-profits, academic experts and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency came together to create the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) . The SAC is working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world by developing common measurements and a common environmental understanding of products’ impacts across our industry.
To accomplish this, the SAC built on the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) ’s Eco Index™, a standardized tool for measuring the environmental impacts of outdoor products (things like boots, clothing, tents, and more). The Eco Index™ evaluates impacts in six key areas of a product’s lifecycle: Materials, Packaging, Product Manufacturing and Assembly, Transport and Distribution, Use of Service and End of Life.
The SAC adapted the Eco Index™ for apparel in an effort to give brands like Timberland more control over reducing environmental impacts right from the outset, rather than relying on factories. Factories, too, will benefit from the Index, by having only one standard of measurement to respond to, rather than a different set of standards for each and every brand. In this way, suppliers will be able to focus more on solutions, rather than audits and testing.
The SAC’s adapted Eco Index™ is now being pilot tested in factories. The ultimate goal is to develop a tool that can be used by brands and factories to improve the environmental sustainability of their industry, and by consumers to make more informed decisions about the products they buy.
To learn more about the ways in which Timberland is working to create its products with processes and materials that cause less harm to the environment, please visit the Responsibility section of our website.