A group of companies including Wal-Mart, J. C. Penney, Patagonia, and Timberland have come together to form the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which will rate the sustainability of globally sourced clothing items so that shoppers—and the brands themselves—can see how certain clothing manufacturer’s effect the environment.
Their hope is to create “an apparel industry that produces no unnecessary environmental harm and has a positive impact on the people and communities associated with its activities.”
The New York Times reports that the coalition is “developing a comprehensive database of the environmental impact of every manufacturer, component and process in apparel production, with the aim of using that information to eventually give every garment a sustainability score.” This means that, eventually, when you go to pick out new designer denim, you’ll be able to see the environmental score of the item—from how the buttons are made to how the workers who place the buttons are treated.
The effort by the coalition will even educate the executives at clothing labels, who often aren’t well-informed about what goes into the sourcing and manufacturing of their garments.
“This is really filling a void,” said Timberland Chief Executive Jeffrey Swartz. “The government has standards for miles per gallon on a car, but we have no real standards for clothing. This will ultimately put the power in the hands of the consumers, because the apparel industry is saying out loud, ‘We’re going to find a way to disclose to you what’s behind this purchase decision—beyond color, size and fit.’”
We’re hoping their efforts are hugely successful so we can avoid contributing to messes like these.