Article by Marc Gunther at Greenbiz.com: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/07/26/behind-scenes-sustainable-apparel-coalition?utm_source=E-News+from+GreenBiz&utm_campaign=21c7056b94-GreenBuzz-2012-27-07&utm_medium=email
The story of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition begins with a letter designed to get the attention of even a busy CEO. At the top: the logos of Walmart and Patagonia. John Fleming, who was then Walmart’s chief merchandising officer, and Yvon Chouinard, Patagonia’s founder, signed the letter, which invited chief executives of some of the world’s biggest clothing companies–fierce competitors, ordinarily — to join together to develop an index to measure the environmental impact of their products.
Their pitch, in part, read like this:
Creating a single approach for measuring sustainability in the apparel sector will do much more than accelerate meaningful social and environmental change. Standardization will enable us to maximize sustainability benefits for all buyers without investing in multiple sustainability technologies and certification processes, and ultimately empower consumers to trust claims regarding sustainably sourced apparel.
Finally, as an industry, we will benefit from the unique opportunity to shape policy and create standards for measuring sustainability before government inevitably imposes one.
…The time is right and the need is great for the apparel sector to move forward now, without further delay, in unison, with strong partners like you.
It was a risky proposition. What if it turned out that a competing company had a better sustainability story to tell? Would consumers be given access to the index? NGOs? Regulators? Most big retailers knew that they had very little visibility deep into their supply chains. Did they really want to find out, for example, that a supplier to one of their suppliers, in a factory they had never visited in China or Vietnam, exploited workers or dumped pollution into a nearby river? Any meaningful index would require companies to ask tough questions and, eventually, face demands from others to share what they had learned.
The letter went out on October 1, 2009. Less than three years later, despite those risks, the apparel industry has made major progress towards creating a global sustainability index, the Higg Index, to measure and score products, factories and companies. A first version was released today by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the nonprofit group that developed the index.
Its vision? Nothing less than “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 (SAC) hired an executive director, Jason Kibbey, in January, and today it has more than 60 members, representing brands, retailers and suppliers who together account for more than a third of the global apparel and footwear industry.
PACT’s motto is CHANGE STARTS WITH YOUR UNDERWEAR. The purchase of PACT underwear is participation in a social movement: when you buy PACT underwear, you are supporting and encouraging organic cotton farmers, responsible labor practices, and businesses that form partnerships with nonprofit organizations dedicated to positive change in our world. >>
PACT is your everyday underwear. It’s made with the highest quality soft, organic Turkish cotton, with 5% elastane for a perfect stretch. PACT may be stylish and sexy, but it’s designed to be comfortable for everyday living and is the best choice for the sustainably-minded consumer.
According to Yvon Chouinard, “There’s no such thing as sustainability. It’s just kind of a path you get on and try – each day try to make it better.” At PACT, we’re committed to operating in as sustainable a manner as possible while still running a viable business. On our journey putting this company together, we’ve made numerous, carefully considered decisions about how we can best accomplish this goal. Each of these decisions was made for a reason, and with that in mind, we’d like to share with you exactly what ingredients go into making your PACT underwear. We know we aren’t perfect, but sustainability is a journey, not a destination. We’re in this for the long haul, and we know we are going to continuously adapt to reduce the impact of the underwear we sell and be a vehicle for social and environmental change.
- Pact Wants You to Protest Coal … in Your Underwear (marieclaire.com)
- Change your underwear (gabyingreen.wordpress.com)