By Maureen Kline
Director of public affairs and sustainability, Pirelli Tire North
Twitter: America@kline_maureen

Imagine if every time you went to the supermarket or big-box store (or shopped online) you could select your products based on sustainable sourcing, as well as the usual criteria. Imagine if a single rating system could tell you that one product was brought to you more sustainably than its closest competitor, with certification that workers had been paid a living wage, that packaging was recycled and recyclable, and that this product had not contributed to deforestation. Or better, imagine if you knew that all the products in that particular store had been pre-screened on the basis of sustainability.

Some retailers and their suppliers have challenged themselves to make that happen. Together with nonprofits, academics and government, they formed a coalition, named The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), to analyze the supply chains of consumer products and come up with a set of environmental and social metrics that will give consumers a clear picture of the products’ backgrounds. TSC’s goal is to drive change through supply chains so that “we can all experience the benefits of consumer products without causing harm to people or going beyond the environmental limits of our planet.” The Consortium, which is administered by two universities, figures it can measure and track the sustainability of $1 trillion worth of consumer goods in the next five years. Since production and use of consumer goods globally causes more than 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, two-thirds of tropical forest loss, and 80 percent of water usage, according to TSC, this will tip the scales and usher in a more sustainable world.

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