What is sustainability?
Our Common Future (1987), also known as the Brundtland Report, defines sustainable development as development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The report explained sustainability in terms of economic, social, and ecological processes and the interconnectedness of these three ideas. This three-pronged concept was then popularised at Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
What is fast fashion?
Merriam-Webster defines fast fashion as ‘an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers’. This approach has been criticised for contributing to climate change and environmental degradation. The apparel industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions and is the second largest industrial polluter, second only to oil.
What is carbon neutrality?
In 2006, the New Oxford American Dictionary declared their Word of the Year to be ‘carbon neutral’.
This is how they defined the term: ‘Being carbon neutral involves calculating your total climate-damaging carbon emissions, reducing them where possible, and then balancing your remaining emissions, often by purchasing a carbon offset: paying to plant new trees or investing in “green” technologies such as solar and wind power.’
Carbon neutrality refers to achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions through carbon offsetting, carbon removal, and transitioning to a low-carbon economy. The term ‘climate neutral’ can also be used to include other GHGs that affect climate change.
What is organic cotton?
Organic Cotton Plus defines it as cotton that is grown using methods and materials that have a low impact on the environment. These production methods replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic pesticides, herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers, and build biologically diverse agriculture.
Compared to conventionally farmed cotton, organic cotton has 46% reduced global warming potential (GWP); 70% reduced acidification potential (AP); 26% reduced eutrophication potential (EP, also known as soil erosion); 91% reduced blue water consumption; 62% reduced primary energy demand (non-renewable), according to the Textile Exchange.
What is a circular economy?
A circular economy / circularity is an economic system that eliminates waste and continual use of resources. While linear economies use a take-make-waste model, circular systems employ reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing, and recycling to create a close-loop system, thereby minimising waste, pollution, and carbon emissions. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation explains further:
‘It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital.’
Carbon Disclosure Project
The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts. This global environmental disclosure system supports thousands of companies, cities, states and regions to measure and manage their risks and opportunities on climate change, water security and deforestation.
OIA Chemicals Management Guide and Training for Manufacturers
This Outdoor Industry Association Guide can be used to inform better chemicals management decisions at production facilities, and reduce risks to your organization, customers, workers, and the environment. It is freely available and intended to be applicable to any type of manufacturer, with apparel, footwear and outdoor-specific scenarios included as appropriate. It was developed by Sumerra with OIA support and in collaboration with several OIA member companies.
Higg Index and Higg MSI
Developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the Higg Index is a suite of tools that enables brands, retailers, and facilities of all sizes — at every stage in their sustainability journey — to accurately measure and score a company or product’s sustainability performance. The Higg Index delivers a holistic overview that empowers businesses to make meaningful improvements that protect the well-being of factory workers, local communities, and the environment. The Higg Index has three categories of tools: Product Tools, Facility Tools, and the Brand & Retail Tool.
The Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) is part of the Higg Product Tools Suite and is the apparel industry’s most trusted tool to accurately measure the environmental sustainability impacts of materials. This easy-to-use tool allows you to compare and evaluate materials side by side to understand environmental trade-offs between options. There are 80 base materials available in the Higg MSI.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an international environmental treaty adopted on 9 May 1992 and opened for signature at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro from 3 to 14 June 1992. The UNFCCC objective is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. The framework sets non-binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions for individual countries. The UNFCCC has useful databases about GHG emissions of its member countries which can be accessed here.
Waterwise is an independent, not-for-profit UK NGO focused on reducing water consumption in the UK. They support and challenge governments, industry, customers and others to be innovative and ambitious on water efficiency. They are the leading authority on water efficiency in the UK. The WaterWise database allows anyone to search through WaterWise publications and policy, water efficiency research, and water wholesaler and retailer publications.
The ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (ZDHC MRSL) is a list of chemical substances. These substances are banned from intentional use in facilities processing textile materials, leather, rubber, foam, adhesives and trim parts in textiles, apparel, and footwear. Using chemical formulations that conform to the ZDHC MRSL allows suppliers to assure themselves, and their customers, that banned chemical substances are not intentionally used during production and manufacturing processes.
The ZDHC MRSL goes beyond the traditional approaches to chemical restrictions, which only apply to finished products (Product Restricted Substances List - PRSL). This approach helps to protect consumers while minimising the possible impact of banned hazardous chemicals on production workers, local communities, and the environment.