Sustainability and The Higg Index for the Outdoor Industry

Outdoorists, worldwide, have become aware of the commitment

Sustainability Symbol

towards sustaining the delicate balance of our Global environment.  Saying everyone is on the “same page” on this extremely delicate issue is like saying politicians are all on the same bandwagon with the NPS and Monument designations to protect our public lands we cherish as Outdoorists.  So, how is the Outdoor Industry monitoring the Supply Chain from manufacturing Outdoor Products to Outdoor Retailers and finally to the consumer and beyond?

Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), made up of many Individuals, Manufacturers, Non-Profits and Retailers, with the Art of Collaboration and Open Sourcing, have created a standard (benchmark) to measure and evaluate sustainability impacts.  In 2007 the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) helped to put together a Sustainability Working Group (OIA-SWG), originally called the Eco Working Group, made up of several leading Outdoor Companies working together on shared issues throughout the Global Supply Chains.  They wanted to develop a “tool” to measure environmental Impacts (Energy/Greenhouse Gas Emissions; Waste Water/Effluent Air Emissions; Waste and Chemicals Management) as well as Social Impacts across the Life Cycle of Outdoor Apparel and Footwear Products.

Wind and Hydroelectric.Renewal Energy…

By 2011, this group came up with a tool called The Eco Index.  The SAC put this tool together with Nike”s Materials Sustainability Index to create the Higg Index (A Web-Based Optimization Tool) released in 2012.  The SAC represents nearly 60% of the Global Apparel and Footwear Market utilizing the Higg Index as an incredibly sophisticated webtool and centralizing a leading Global Standard of Sustainability to guide the Outdoor Supply Chain to meet this standard.

At about this point in this Blog you may be wondering how does this subject (Sustainability) relate to my interests and issues pertaining to my Outdoor Experience.  That is why we are going to shift the focus to your interests as an Outdoor Products Consumer.

Let’s take a moment here and now shift our focus; “How will this

Re-purposed apparel…

rating system (Higg Index) help us compare and make decisions on purchasing outdoor gear”?  It is based on how the Outdoor Supply Chain affects our environment towards Sustainability of our Global Environment”.  How would one not be interested in this information in the form of a Sustainability Index that will be either good or bad for our Mother Earth?  Soon, you can download an app that helps you evaluate the product you would like to purchase  by placing the code either on the label or on a hang- tag on the product.

There are 3 major modules to the Higg Index categorizing the elements of the outdoor supply chain:  Brand Module, Facility Modual and Product Module.  The Design and Development Module has been added in 2016, being a very focused issue of concern.  These modules all contribute to helping Outdoor Manufacturers make Sustainable Decisions of Outdoor Products.  By 2018 you, as an Outdoorist, will be able to have this Higg Index number on an app provided and updated by the Outdoor Industry.  The scale will evaluate the overall affect this outdoor product has on a Global Scale, impacting the environment we all live and play in.  Also, you can see what parts of the supply chain affect and improve the Outdoor Experience.

Sustainability encompasses a major portion of Outdoor Issues.  By the evolution of the Higg Index, we as a major industry contributes $877 Billion to our GDP.  The Outdoor Industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of our National Economy.  We, as Outdoorists, can channel our energies into a passionate mission to save our Planet Earth for now and for the next generations to come.

Save Our Planet and we save our future generations.

A new move on the sustainability issues we face is the reusability of Outdoor Products being recycled back into the Outdoor Market  Place.  An exciting joint venture between an Outdoor Manufacturer, Toad&Co and The Renewal Workshop to recycle overstocked, damaged and used outdoor gear and apparel back into the Outdoor Market by cleaning, grading, fixing and certifying the quality of the outdoor product meeting standards that in many cases guarantees its safety  by The Renewal Workshop.  At that point the original manufacturer of the product and The Renewal Workshop places co-labels on the outdoor gear, apparel and footwear, meeting the original quality and standards, to be sold again in the Outdoor Industry Market Place.

We, at, applaud the vision of the Outdoor Industry to put the most recognized issues that is in the forefront of Outdoorists Worldwide. By challenging all of us to take part in protecting and sustaining should be on all our radars.

Below is a link to a great article by Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) about the latest efforts being performed by The Outdoor Industry:






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