Nike, Walmart, Target, Other Brands Launch Eco Clothing Index

Walmart, Target, H&M, Nike and other big-name retailers have joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition to reduce the impact of clothing and footwear. (Walmart Press Photo)

Strolling through H&M or Target, it’s tempting to scoop up a cheap T-shirt or pair of kicks at fire-sale prices, but those fast fashion deals come at a higher, hidden cost: the environment.

Major clothing retailers and manufacturers acknowledged as much today, unveiling the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a collaborative effort by about 30 corporations plus the U.S. EPA and nonprofit groups to develop an index that measures the eco-impact of clothing and footwear across its entire lifecycle. Besides H&M and Target, members include Walmart, Gap, Nike and well-known outdoor brands such as REI and Patagonia.

“[Businesses] recognize the opportunity to get in front of the growing need to measure and manage the environmental and social impacts of their products,” said Rick Ridgeway, Coalition chair and VP of environmental programs at Patagonia, in a press release. “More importantly, they recognize the threat to the planet and its inhabitants by continuing the model of ‘business as usual.’”

The index, which will be an internal industry tool, is expected to monitor many environmental and social categories throughout the supply chain including energy, land and water use; greenhouse gas emissions and labor practices. The coalition plans to test out the first version of the index, based in part on the Outdoor Industry Association’s Eco Index, in April.

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