Eco-Indexing Organic Cotton
Advocates of organic cotton, including Textile Exchange, have spent a lot of time dancing to a different tune. We get the whole thing – and it all makes sense – so why haven’t others got it too? And, despite the increasingly popular mantra that “it can’t be business as usual anymore because business as usual ain’t working”; when it comes to proving the case for organic we still need to work on building those bridges – or being a better dance partner - to take the business of fiber sourcing to a better place.
At Textile Exchange we have a firm commitment to organic cotton, we always have. We believe organic has a valuable role to play in helping the textile industry get to that better place. We also have a firm commitment to building bridges. Our members - whether they are retailers, manufacturers, or farmers - trust us to find a safe place and space to learn, lead, partner up and join the dance.
This year TE reflects on our ten years of advocating organic cotton – of staging shin-digs at which we have invited growers and brands to find ways to dance together. We also look forward to the next ten years and new ways to engage with our members and find that common space necessary for innovation and developing new moves on the dance floor. As we reflect and project, we rejoice in the arrival of the Eco-Index and the Sustainable Apparel Index.
Indexing Sustainability: the race to the top
For those that are not yet up on this, the Eco-Index is being developed by the Outdoor Industry Association and the European Outdoor Group. It is an environmental assessment tool designed to advance sustainability practices primarily within the outdoor industry. It aims to provide companies throughout the supply chain with a way to benchmark and measure their environmental footprint, identify areas for improvement, and make informed sourcing and product life cycle decisions (See http://www.ecoindexbeta.org/content/about-project).
The Eco-Index can be applied to other industries as well and is the basis of the Sustainable Apparel Index tool. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is developing this industry-wide tool for measuring the environmental and social performance of apparel products and the supply chains that produce them (Visit http://www.apparelcoalition.org/1.html).
Never has there been a better opportunity for us to position organic cotton within a sustainability framework that has captured the attention and commitment of the textile industry at large.
Growing Up – Measuring Up
So as we at Textile Exchange reflect on our ten years of activity, and think about how we want to be remembered for our next ten years, we agree with the rest of the world it can’t be business as usual anymore. We recognise the incredible amount of work and innovation that has gone into building the organic advantage and feel more determined than ever that organic cotton plays a key role in textile sustainability.
At this point in our ‘growing up’ we believe organic cotton has a valuable role to play in helping the textile industry get to a better place businesswise and we see the OIA’s Eco-Index and SAC’s Sustainable Apparel Index as essential tools for helping the industry build those bridges. For us advocates of organic agriculture, that may have spent too much time dancing around our sustainably sourced handbags, these tools give us the dance floor to strut our stuff – and the partners to tango with!
During the month of July we – including our guest bloggers - will bring you what we know of the organic advantage through these eco-lenses. We hope you might join us; liven up the dialogue by sharing your thoughts and dance step too.
By Liesl Truscott
Director Farm Engagement
Next Posting – The organic advantage through the lenses