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Care What You Wear

Group to Rate Environmental Impact of Clothing

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Cloths for a Change page, and our Environment and Climate Resource page.

With just a few clicks on Google Maps, anyone can call up a satellite image of blue dye and other chemicals washing downriver from textile mills in Xintang, China — the world capital of blue jeans production.

But American shoppers in a typical department store encounter no obvious connection between those polluting plumes of dye — or really any other environmental impact — and their favorite pair of designer blues. In many cases, the company whose name appears on the label is only marginally better informed.

But a new and prominent assemblage of retailers, clothing manufacturers, environmental groups and academics plans to change that.

Calling itself the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the group intends to announce Tuesday that it is developing a comprehensive database of the environmental impact of every manufacturer, component and process in apparel production, with the aim of using that information to eventually give every garment a sustainability score.