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LEAF Launches Review For Apparel Eco-Labeling Program

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Labeling Ecologically Approved Fabrics (LEAF) - a nonprofit organization that is collaborating with international apparel industry standards developers and third-party certification agencies to create a comprehensive eco-labeling system for the US marketplace - is inviting apparel industry leaders and consumers to participate in a 90-day online public review of the proposed labeling program. Feedback can be given via a questionnaire on LEAF's website, located at www.leafcertified.org, which outlines the program. LEAF will incorporate the feedback into the final program.

"The supply chain of one item of apparel can be quite complex, as one particular product can be harvested, manufactured and packaged in many different places around the globe," said Elinor Averyt, founder, LEAF. "A growing number of reputable apparel designers and brands are meeting comprehensive environmental and social responsibility standards, but there's often not enough communication about the fact with end users here in the U.S."

Dr. Gwendolyn Hustvedt, a consumer advocate and assistant professor of fashion merchandising at Texas State University, is among fashion industry observers who believe the program will appeal to consumers wanting to make responsible purchases. "Building a traceable system is a big part of it," she said. "People want the process to be transparent; they don't want to have to wonder where the apparel comes from. They want help cutting through the 'green fog.'"

LEAF is discussing the proposed concept with several standards developers including The Global Organic Textile Standard, Social Accountability International and the Organic Exchange. LEAF itself will not perform certifications but will communicate whether a product has been certified via a label displayed on a hangtag, attached to apparel, included in a company's marketing campaign or on LEAF's or the certified company's website.

The program initially will focus on sustainable and/or organic source materials, environmentally responsible manufacturing and fair labor practices; and may expand to include issues such as fair trade for farmers, packaging and distribution, and humane animal treatment. Though the present focus is on apparel, the program eventually may cover sheets, towels and other products.

September 8, 2009