In 2007, the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Sustainability Working Group (SWG) began developing a groundbreaking assessment tool to enable companies to measure the impacts of their products, identify areas for improvement and make informed sourcing and product life cycle decisions throughout the supply chain. Originally called the Eco Index, this tool provided a standardized framework and language to assess product‐level sustainability.
In 2011, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) – a coalition of broader brands, retailers, suppliers and other stakeholders that represent nearly 40 percent of the global apparel and footwear supply chain, announced that it would adopt the Eco Index in conjunction with Nike’s Materials Sustainability Index to create an industry‐standard sustainability index for apparel and footwear. OIA collaborated with the SAC to develop this second version of the Eco Index, called “The Higg Index,” which launched in July 2012. In December 2013 [GM2] , after further refinements, the Higg Index 2.0 [GM3] debuted.
As the Sustainable Apparel Coalition defines it, “The Higg Index 2.0 is a tool to help organizations standardize how they measure and evaluate environmental performance of apparel products across the supply chain at the brand, product, and facility levels. It is:
- a self‐assessment tool that enables rapid learning through identification of environmental sustainability hot spots and improvement opportunities.
- a starting point of engagement, education, and collaboration among stakeholders in advance of more rigorous assessment efforts.”
The Higg Index is the evolution of the first project undertaken by the OIA SWG and is the result of an incredibly successful collaborative process that expands beyond the outdoor industry, taking us one step closer toward our goal of a standardized framework and language to assess product‐level sustainability.
The Rapid Design Module
The RDM tool serves as the next iteration of the product‐level content of the Higg Index (the brand-level and facilities‐level Higg Index content presently resides in a separate online platform). The RDM tool provides guidance to product designers around the potential environmental impacts of decisions during the product creation process.
The Equipment Working Group, a subgroup of the SWG, expanded Higg Index content to be applicable to equipment, gear and accessory products. In 2014 this equipment content was integrated into the Higg Index Rapid Design Module (RDM).
Modeled after the existing Higg Index Rapid Design Module Prototype for Footwear and Apparel, the RDM for Equipment ensures the inclusion of product‐level environmental indicators specific to hard goods and accessories.
Tools and Resources