Fair Trade Clothing? The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is Working On It…

For decades now we’ve had fair trade labeling and certification for food. However, the fair trade industry is still lacking a certification and labeling system for apparel. And, this is just what the Sustainable Apparel Coalition is trying to change.

This non-profit organization is trying to change the way the apparel industry treats its workers, and approaches sustainable.

Here is their vision:

An apparel and footwear industry that produces no unnecessary environmental harm and has a positive impact on the people and communities associated with its activities.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition created the Higg Index; this is a tool that helps companies and manufacturers measure the human and environmental costs of their clothing and footwear production. In their words, here’s what the Higg Index does:

The Higg Index 1.0 is primarily an indicator based tool for apparel that enables companies to evaluate material types, products, facilities and processes based on a range of environmental and product design choices.  The Index asks practice-based, qualitative questions to gauge environmental sustainability performance and drive behavior for improvement.  It is based largely on the Eco Index and Nike’s Apparel Environmental Design Tool, however it has been significantly enhanced through a pilot testing period.

I love the idea of the Higg Index because it gives companies and manufactures the chance to truly measure how their actions are impacting both people and planet. It’s a brilliant idea, and one that has the potential to change the entire clothing manufacturing industry.

Who’s Part of the Coalition?

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is made up of over 80 mid to large sized clothing and footwear manufacturers. You can see the full list here, but here’s a quick summary of who has joined this worthy cause:

  • Adidas
  • Asics
  • Burberry
  • Columbia
  • Espirit
  • Hanes
  • Levis
  • Marmot
  • Nike
  • Patagonia
  • Puma
  • H&M
  • LL Bean
  • REI
  • Target

I know the organization is still in its early stages. And there is still a long, LONG way to go before we can avoid another catastrophe like Bangladesh. However, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition is at least a start. And no journey can be started without these small first steps.

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