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UDSAI promotes environmental sustainability in apparel industries
Jun '09
What does it mean for a clothing or footwear company to be environmentally sustainable? Browsing some brands' web sites, you might think a company can lessen its impact on the environment just by using organic cotton in some of its clothing. But, it's not that simple.

The University of Delaware's Sustainable Apparel Initiative (UDSAI) is demystifying the process of becoming more environmentally sustainable for brands and retailers. Companies seeking this information are invited to read and utilize UDSAI's recently produced policy guide, “Creating a More Environmentally Sustainable Apparel Business: Policies for Apparel Brands and Retailers.”

“Sustainability is the 'buzz' throughout all industries. The problem is there is no clear definition of what this means,” said Rick Horwitch of Bureau Veritas, Consumer Products Services. “I applaud the University of Delaware for taking on this daunting task of trying to put some structure and context around this very important issue. UDSAI will help bring clarity and direction.”

University of Delaware faculty and students collaborated with industry professionals involved with environmental sustainability to research best practices. Here is a sampling of UDSAI's recommendations that are detailed in the guide:

• Eliminate waste in all points of the supply chain.
• Eliminate excess product manufacturing by balancing supply to demand.
• Develop and implement advertising and marketing strategies that avoid greenwashing – that is, unspecific and unsupported claims about a product's environmental impact.
• Consider and implement end-of-life strategies (recycle, renew, or reuse) when choosing materials, designing, and producing apparel.

“The apparel industry is predicated on change and planned obsolescence, which often results in overconsumption and waste throughout the value chain,” said Huantian Cao, associate professor of fashion and apparel studies and co-director of UDSAI. “UDSAI attempts to provide some simple guidelines that, when followed, will result in a more sustainable company.”

The University of Delaware Sustainable Apparel Initiative promotes environmental sustainability and social responsibility in the apparel and retail industries. Established in 2008 by the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies in partnership with key industry partners, UDSAI leverages the department's extensive expertise in apparel and textiles sustainability and social responsibility, consumer behavior, and apparel design to research, design, create, and demonstrate a framework of guidelines, practices, programs, and solutions to shape the character of the apparel and retail industries in their evolution toward sustainability.

University of Delaware

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