The eco fashion movement got a huge boost last week when the Sustainable Apparel Coalition launched a sustainability tool called the Higg Index, which will help the industry measure the "greenness" of products. The trade group is an alliance of several companies with interests in the apparel industry, including heavyweghts like Nike, Coca-Cola, Walmart, and Levi's.
Designed to measure sustainability across the entire supply chain, the index evaluates three primary areas – brand, product, and facilities – and gives the apparel industry a way to assess the sustainability of any particular product.
The Higg index draws on lifecycle assessment tools already being used internally by some of the companies involved. Those include the Outdoor Industry Association’s Eco Index and Nike’s Material Assessment Tool.
"What we hope for is that everybody eventually comes together to use a common assessment," says Coalition executive director Jason Kibbey. "Ultimately there probably will be integration of the Higg Index with a lot of other existing systems — design tools, lifecycle assessment tools, and various accounting methods for things like waste and carbon impact. In the short term the Higg Index is an assessment tool built for product assessment."
Next up? The Coalition is already at work on the next iteration, due in 2013, which will include social and labor metrics.