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WAKEFIELD – In our latest Ecotextile Talks podcast, McKenzie Everett, an apparel developer with US cycling apparel brand Pearl Izumi, explains how the company uses the Sustainable Apparel Coalition's (SAC) Higg Index product tools.

She tells our host, Philip Berman, how data from the Higg Product Module is the basis for the company's 'Pedal to Zero' campaign which tells consumers how far they need to cycle – instead of drive – to offset the climate change impact of their purchase.

Each garment carries – printed on the label – a number revealing the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) created by the production of the garment – all based on the Higg Product Tools.

Pearl Izumi is one of 300 brands that use these tools to determine the impact of more than 2,800 products in five areas: global warming potential, nutrient pollution in water, water scarcity, fossil fuel depletion and chemistry.

Everett explained that the company had chosen to focus Pedal to Zero on climate change because of its connection to cycling which offered a way to help tackle the problem.

Pearl Izumi made use of both Higg Product Tools. The Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI) to assess the raw materials it uses and the Higg Product Module (Higg PM) to determine the impact of the resulting products.

Everett said it had enabled the company's designers to look again at the products they created, for example by choosing materials based on environmental issues rather than their cost or aesthetic appeal.

“We were surprised by some of our product impacts, thinking they're going to be really low and they're actually much higher. This has been a huge learning project for our entire products team,” she said.

Discoveries included that the main body material for a garment was responsible for as much as half of its total impact, and that product care was responsible for another quarter, highlighting the need to educate consumers.

“It's really allowed us to narrow our focus on to finding the most sustainable materials that we can find because that will have the greatest impact,” Everett explained.

Pearl Izumi was now using data from the Higg Product Data Tools for the next stage of the campaign in which it will work to reduce the climate change impact of its most popular products, she added.

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