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Higg Index to Measure Sustainability
Nordstrom is a founding circle member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a group of sustainability leaders in the apparel and footwear industries, who had come together two years ago to focus on creating an industry-wide index to measure and evaluate products' sustainability. Today, the group's hard work is paying off with the official launch of the Higg Index.
Since 2010 the SAC group, which is now made up of nearly 60 apparel and footwear brands, retailers, manufacturers, suppliers, universities and comprises more than 1/3 of all global apparel and footwear-focused companies, have worked together to develop, test and implement a prototype tool that measures the comprehensive environmental (and eventually social) impacts of apparel and footwear products. Many SAC member companies, including Nordstrom, have been testing the prototype internally over that time within their organizations. The public and other non-member organizations are now able access the tool – currently named the Higg Index.The Higg Index has already helped us at Nordstrom better understand where our products are in terms of their impacts.
- Linda Peffer, Nordstrom director of Corporate Social Responsibility
Identifying Ways to Reduce Impact
Though the Higg Index – a named inspired by the Higgs boson, which gives all particles mass, thus allowing for the existence of matter - measures current product impact in environmental areas such as water and chemical usage, but that's not its only function. The group's hope is that the Index will also help users identify forward-facing opportunities for global supply chains to reduce that impact and improve long-term sustainability. It will also provide a standard of measurement that SAC believes will improve social and environmental conditions, increase operational efficiency and ultimately inspire better product design.
"The Higg Index has already helped us at Nordstrom better understand where our products are in terms of their impacts," said Linda Peffer, Nordstrom director of Corporate Social Responsibility. "Because of those learnings, we will be able to drive design and manufacturing decisions that reduce those impacts and create long term solutions."
The Future of the Higg Index
Future versions will include social and labor impacts, such as factory conditions and wages. A group of key members is working on drafting the pilot version of that tool and companies will begin testing in the very near future, with a goal of a 2013 public-facing launch.
"We've been involved with this project from the beginning," said Laura Hodgson, Nordstrom Product Group director of Social Responsibility. "We're excited to see that the social and labor tool is making great progress and we're eager to see how we can incorporate it into our current human rights program to make an even greater impact on the important issues that we're working to address."
Eventually, the information that the Higg Index measures could be shared with customers on a label or tag and customers will know more about the item their purchasing. "It's really neat that we've come this far in just two years," said Linda, "and we still have so much more to accomplish, which is exciting too."
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