Lately the outdoor industry has been buzzing about implementing a new social and environmental sustainability standardization process so that consumers will know and understand what “sustainable” really means. While part of this effort is simply to prevent “green-washing” by setting standards, another part of the efforts are designed to help the outdoor industry, as a whole, educate the public about the progress towards sustainability OIA member companies are making.

However, after the first round of talks in Boulder, OIA came to the conclusion that a standard is still three to five years away (See BOSS_0719).

This week two major North American outdoor companies, Patagonia and Mountain Equipment Co-op, became the first two members of bluesign technologies, a textile sustainability standard launched in 2000 and headquartered in Switzerland.

Jill Dumain, environmental analysis director of Patagonia Inc. said, “bluesign technologies ag is a very interesting partner to help us reach our goal of reducing the overall environmental footprint of our business. The people at bluesign technologies ag are very knowledgeable about the textile supply chain and have made a progressive step forward by looking at the beginning of the supply chain. This approach allows Patagonia to be environmentally sensitive in our decision making on the front-end of manufacturing.”

Greg Scott, materials development manager at MEC said, “We’re committed to providing environmental leadership while providing quality products and services for our members and bluesign technologies has proven to be the best choice of partner in this endeavor. Their knowledge of EHS-issues along with their experience in delivering practical solutions to the whole supply chain is a progressive step forward and will help MEC to make the right decisions for our products, our consumers and the environment.”

This standard developed out of a project initiative in 1997 that gathered the best available knowledge when it comes to technological developments in textile production. This technology was used to put a reliable and proactive tool at the disposal of the entire textile production chain – from raw material and component suppliers who manufacture yarns, dyes and additives, to textile manufacturers, to retailer and brand companies, to consumers.

While Bluesign currently only has two fully vested members, it has a number of large companies as key supporters, including Nike, Vaude and Marks & Spencer.