Every Day is Earth Day For OIA’s Sustainability Working Group

April 15, 2015

With Earth Day around the corner, you might be thinking about your company’s impact on the environment. But it’s a topic that deserves attention year-round, especially among our industry.

The crown jewel of OIA’s Corporate Responsibility department is the Sustainability Working Group, a collective of outdoor companies dedicated to mitigating the impact of bringing their products to market. This has translated to some giant steps in supply chain innovation, extending to other industries beyond outdoor.

If you’re still not sure how the work SWG affects you and your business or want to know more about the tools they’re developing, read on for an overview of 2015 initiatives, and be sure to check out our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22, 2015, when our Corporate Responsibility team will pull a takeover of our social media channels.

What is the OIA Sustainability Working Group?
In 2007, the Outdoor Industry Association Sustainability Working Group (OIA SWG)—originally called the Eco Working Group—formed, the result of several leading outdoor companies recognizing that they could make meaningful progress by working together on shared issues throughout their global supply chains.

Why is it important for the outdoor industry?
By leveraging the unique and close-knit community of the outdoor industry to collaboratively develop supply chain tools and resources, we are able to better address the risks and challenges throughout our shared (and complex) supply chains.

What is the Higg Index?
The Higg Index 2.0, fast becoming the global standard for assessing the sustainability of apparel and footwear supply chains, is an indicator-based assessment tool for apparel and footwear products. The Index asks practice-based, qualitative questions to gauge environmental sustainability performance and drive behavior for improvement, helping organizations standardize how they measure and evaluate environmental performance of apparel products across the supply chain at the brand, product, and facility levels. 

Tracing its roots back to the OIA SWG, the Higg Index is under the stewardship of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which represents nearly 40 percent of the retail value of apparel and footwear globally.

Why is it important for the outdoor industry?
The Higg Index 2.0 is a learning tool for companies to identify challenges and capture ongoing improvement. It targets a spectrum of performance that allows beginners and leaders in environmental sustainability, regardless of company size, to identify opportunities. 

The Higg Index is based largely on the Outdoor Industry Association’s Eco Index, the first tool the OIA SWG developed. The outdoor industry’s legacy of leadership in supply chain management is deeply intertwined with the Higg Index.

What is the Chemicals Management Module?
The Chemicals Management Module (CMM) is a groundbreaking roadmap for companies to benchmark, establish, build, maintain and improve chemicals management processes as part of an overall corporate management system. It provides a shared strategic guide for companies in the outdoor and fashion industries—and beyond—to better manage chemicals they use to create products. The CMM indicators will be integrated into the Higg Index to bolster the chemicals management portion of the Index.

Why is it important for the outdoor industry?
The outdoor industry, like most industries, relies on the use of chemicals as the foundation for our products. In order to ensure that products are safe throughout their lifecycles, it’s imperative to have a clear understanding of the chemicals used throughout the manufacturing process.

With increasing regulation around the use of certain chemicals, sound chemicals management across your supply chain can also help mitigate risk and ensure access to markets.

Read more about the CMM and why chemicals management is important to your supply chain here.

What is the Community of Practice education program?
Community of Practice webinars are facilitated discussions, organized around a central question or theme, that delve into some of the key challenges outdoor industry companies are facing within their supply chains on a day-to-day basis.

Why is it important for the outdoor industry?
These 30-minute calls provide a space to engage in discussion with your peers, ask questions and learn more about how others are addressing issues like brand collaboration, social insurance in China, ethical sourcing of wool, RSL’s and PFC’s, to name a few.

Look for in-depth insights into SWG priorities in weeks to come, as well as some amazing facts and numbers on our social channels. Don’t forget to follow our Corporate Responsibility Team on Twitter for all the latest on SWG.

Beth Jensen, Director of Corporate Responsibility

Nikki Hodgson, Corporate Responsibility Coordinator

What better time to join the environmental fight than Earth Day—and every day? Click here to get started.