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Outdoor Industry
Chest deep in liquid chocolate, Steve Reichard keeps his gear high and dry in the Zion Narrows. Zion National Park, Utah. JEFF DIENER

OIA Eco Working Group

Under the umbrella of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), we have worked with colleagues (and competitors) from other companies in the Eco Working Group to create a new assessment tool called the Eco Index, which allows us to improve the environmental attributes of our products and to advance the sustainability practices of each participating business. The Index enables companies throughout the supply chain to work though a common platform to reduce their environmental and social impacts.

The OIA group created the Index with five key principles in mind.

Collaboration. The working group was open to anyone that wanted to join. As a result, the Eco Index reflects the issues and concerns of – and thousands of hours of work done by – more than 100 companies in the outdoor industry.

Open-Source Information. The Eco Index is open source and available to all companies, so that information can be shared as broadly as possible.

Transparency. It is critical that all outdoor industry stakeholders and others are able to view, understand and provide input into the ongoing development of the Eco Index.

Scalability. The Eco Index was developed to be applicable to many different types of companies; big and small, experienced and inexperienced and publicly or privately held.

Global Reach. The OIA group partnered with colleagues in the European Outdoor Group Index initiative to ensure that the Eco Index is useful worldwide.

The OIA group allowed the newly created Sustainable Apparel Coalition to use the Eco Index as a platform for development of a similar index for the apparel and footwear industries. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition has a much broader reach than does the outdoor industry but the leadership at OIA recognized this opportunity to share our work and knowledge. This collaboration has proved to be very successful and taken the Index to a new level and broader implementation.

The OIA is now expanding the scope of the Eco Index to include equipment.

To help change an industry, you need widespread participation and commitment to agree on common standards, methodologies and metrics. OIA provided the leadership but dozens of companies worked together to create a tool to lower our collective footprint.