Wednesday 1 August 2012

Scores On The Door

If we're going to be honest with each other, global fashion is not the most sustainable of industries. It's based around heavy transportation footprints, nearly unfettered use of toxic chemicals and a pitifully poor record on worker's rights.

Things are improving, of course. I wouldn't be here if that wasn't the case. One of the main reasons that things are slowly getting better is that it's becoming easier to track and measure how ethical and sustainable you are as a company.

That process is about to become easier still, with the introduction of the Higgs Index. Nothing to do with the Large Hadron Collider, this is a three-part scoring system that aims to allow companies to easily measure the environmental performance of their apparal online.

It tracks three seperate metrics. A brand module looks at how goods are designed, and whether their life cycle, transportation and the use of toxic nasties have been taken ino account. A product module looks at the sustainability of fabrics, cutting-room waste and the use of potentially harmful finishes. Finally a facilities module examines the factory itself, and how it deals with waste water and energy use.

The Higgs Index has already been tested by big hitters like Nike, Adidas and American big-box store J.C. Penney. But the ultimate plan would be to make the tool available to anyone, allowing consumers to see at a glance just how sustainable an item of clothing is. It's easy to brand something as "eco-friendly", but there's often litte explanation of what that means. Imagine if we had a clear, understandable certificate of sustainability, like a Food Standards Agency rating on a restaurant. That would really force manufactrers to up their game.

Take a look at the Higgs Index yourself, at the Sustainable Apparel Coalition website.

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