Measuring Sustainability in the Fashion Industry

stock-illustration-5491182-fashion-model-silhouettesDo you ever wonder how the sustainability of clothing production can be measured? The Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a joint effort of both clothing manufacturers and not-for-profit organizations is attempting to find a solution to that problem. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition “seeks to lead the [apparel] industry toward a shared version of sustainability built upon a common approach for measuring and evaluating apparel and footwear product sustainability that will spotlight priorities for actions and opportunities for technological innovation.” Members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition include some of the most recognizable brands in the world, such as Coca Cola, Burberry, Hanes, and Walmart.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s main initiative is to create a standard to measure the environmental and social performance of apparel and footwear products. The tool that the coalition has created is called the Higg Index. The Higg index draws ideas from both the Eco Index and Nike’s Apparel Environmental Design Tool. The Index will also evaluate the waste, energy, toxins and water in materials and manufacturing. The Higg index works by generating three different scores. One score grades the brand as a whole, one score grades the individual product, and the last score inspects the facilities where the clothing is produced. What is unique about the Higg Index is that it looks at an article of clothing’s entire life cycle. It does not just analyze the final version of the product when it reaches stores, but it looks at how it is made, what it is made out of, how the product is transported from place to place, and what will happen to it at the end of its life.

Sustainability in the Fashion Industry

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition is working to provide clothing manufacturers with a method to evaluate the sustainability of their production and their products. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition makes the Higg index available on its website to give as many companies as possible immediate access. The Sustainable apparel Coalition is looking to change the commonplace behaviors in the industry that harm the planet and people. As sustainability in the fashion Industry continues to evolve, the Sustainable Apparel coalition will continue to bring awareness to the industry of its impact on the environment.




Author: Hayley Feldman

Junior at UW Madison, majoring in zoology and biological aspects of conservation.

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