1.21.2009

That Green Story you've been looking for

Chances are, you're starting to hear the term "sustainability" more and more on the floor of the Salt Palace Convention Center. You may be hearing it even more than the ubiquitous "green" tag. And that's a good thing.

The generally accepted benchmark for business sustainability is taking "people, places and profit" into consideration. It's the old three-legged cliche, and if one leg gets kicked out ... well, the whole apple cart topples into the perfect storm of herding cats.

In the PPP equation, "profit" is easy to figure out (no money=no business), as is the idea of "places" (evironmentally sensitive materials and manufacturing techniques help protect the world around us). But the "people" part is a bit trickier.

One way to think of it: while being green takes care of the planet, being socially responsible takes care of the people who live there. It's a big task to be sure, but we're big people.

A couple emerging industry standards include social responsibility in the mix, and are worth checking out.

One is SA8000 certification, the gold standard of social responsiblity for manufacturing facilities (used by Ahnu Footwear, Booth Booth 32257, among others). SA8000 is remarkably strict, with stringent requirements regarding human rights.

Another is the the environmentally rigorous Bluesign Standard, used in the textile industry (by Patagonia, Booth 8026, and REI among others).

Our own Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is working on their own Eco-Index right here, right now, and will be meeting on Saturday from 7:30-9 am Outdoor Retailer to discuss what's next. They've even got a BLOG!

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