New Eco-Index Challenges Manufacturers and You


According to the Wall Street Journal, a group of roughly 100 well-known apparel brands and retailers including Nike, Levi’s Timberland and Patagonia “Have developed a software tool to help them measure the environmental impact of their apparel and footwear, from raw material to garbage dump.”

This Eco Index, similar to what appliances go through to achieve an Energy Star label is an informal software tool that asks companies to consider their environmental and labor practices. The answers to the questions translate into an eco-value score that, (when the program is ready for the retail market), will allow consumers to make a decision whether they want a product based on its index score.

Many of the companies are hoping it will be an invitation to try their product as it will set them apart from competitors based on insider know how.

The index will debut at the Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City next month.

While many of the questions companies must answer cover significant supply chain steps like manufacturing, shipping, and even disposal, one of the biggest eye openers for consumers will be to see their part in the equation.

The WSJ reports that for example, consumer washing of a pair of Levi’s 501’s contributes to half of the water used and carbon dioxide produced in the life of those jeans. Levi’s has already won points simply for advising consumers to wash with cold water, line dry and donate to Goodwill which puts them ahead of the curve.

Like Energy Star ratings, the Eco-Index value system will allow a semi-sustainably aware public of the need to conserve and have more of a connection to what they are wearing and how the clothing got to them.

Do you think the public is ready for this and that it will make a dent in how we consume?

Image: ecouterre

Amy DuFault

Amy DuFault is a conscious lifestyle writer, consultant and fashion instigator. She resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.