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November 25, 2020

HOT OFF THE PRESS: Are the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the HIGG tools making a meaningful difference? A new report weighs in.

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It’s been nearly a decade since Patagonia, Walmart and a number of other brands, retailers, manufacturers and NGOs established the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), an innovative industry collaboration. As the coalition’s website states, its vision is “an apparel, footwear, and textiles industry that produces no unnecessary environmental harm and has a positive impact on the people and communities associated with its activities”. In turn, members must commit to measuring and improving their social and environmental sustainability impacts, using the HIGG Index suite of measurement and management tools. A significant amount of resources and hard work has been invested in the SAC, so it is appropriate to discuss and constructively debate whether, after nearly a decade, the coalition’s tools and overall work are making a meaningful difference. In this episode Michael speaks with Dara O’Rourke, associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-author of a report assessing whether the SAC’s Facilities Environmental Model (FEM) and the act of standardising, measuring and reporting has resulted in meaningful improvements. Dara presents what he sees as the strengths and weaknesses of the FEM and explains the report’s recommendations for increasing the SAC’s impact. On top of this, Dara and Mike talk consumer psychology and communication, data, the limits of voluntary industry standards and monitoring, and why there are no silver bullets. The report can be found here: https://osf.io/preprints/socarxiv/g67d8/

Check out this episode!

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