Winter is here, there’s a nip in the air, and you need to head to the store. You pull on your favourite cotton sweater, and slide into your favourite name brand sneakers. As you pull them on, like always, you’re confronted with the embedded label in the shoe’s soles: “Fair pay for our manufacturers.” It makes you feel good to know the consumables you purchase come from companies who prioritise the health, safety and wellbeing of their workers.
You head out the front door, and carry on your way.
While your conscience may be (rightly) satisfied in knowing you’re supporting a well-meaning company who places a strong emphasis on staff welfare, are you aware of what your favourite brand contributes to climate change?
As, arguably, the most important factor to the future of humanity, addressing and prioritising climate action should be a key focus for all companies, and recent data shows that fashion companies have been ignoring it for years.
While aviation may appear to be the biggest culprit for emitting CO2 to Earth’s atmosphere, new research is revealing that the fashion industry is a bigger perpetrator. The United Nations has released a report that the fashion industry contributes somewhere between 8 and 10% of global CO2 emissions! That is, quite frankly, frightening.
How is it that the aviation industry, emitting 2.4% of global CO2, has drawn the ire of the world’s activists and yet the fashion industry has largely escaped scrutiny? It’s certainly time for a change.
Most of the fashion industry’s offences are related to its use of raw materials, with cotton using approximately 2.5% of the world’s farmland. The polyester in almost all clothing sold today requires oil in its manufacturing process, and in total the industry uses 342 million barrels of oil every year to produce it. The dying of various fabrics and clothing items requires 43 million tonnes of chemicals each year. And with the World Bank expecting clothing sales to increase by 65% by 2030, something needs to be done urgently.
At Ecowatt, we are fervently dedicated to seeing global carbon emissions be reduced in our quest to help the planet reach net zero by 2050, so we would like to challenge the industry to these points that must be considered in order to reduce its horrifying carbon footprint:
1. Change The Mindset Of The Consumer
The fashion industry is one that thrives off the trendiest and latest. It is an endless cycle of convincing the consumer that there is always a better dress, a hipper shirt, a more stylish pair of boots, etc. In addition to the marketing that drives the latest trends, many clothes are not designed to last, and in fact “designed to become obsolete”.
By simply reducing the cycle of new fashion purchases and producing more durable items of clothing, the industry could halve its carbon emissions within a decade. Just by doing this step alone!
2. Reduce Energy Consumption Along The Supply Chain
Large fashion brands have gargantuan operations, from warehouses, chain stores and offices. If each of these three pillars in their supply chain were able to seriously address their energy consumption, we would immediately begin to see the sector’s CO2 emissions reduced.
British online fashion and cosmetic retailer ASOS recently focussed on this very objective, and began by switching to energy-efficient light bulbs in one of their key warehouses. This warehouse cut its energy use by 76%!
Hugo Boss did a similar analysis on their transport operation, and switched a large chunk of their logistics from air freight to rail freight, and are on target to cut emissions by 95%!
3. Actively Offset Emissions
If all brands did such analyses such as Hugo Boss or ASOS, we at Ecowatt have no doubt the entire industry could reduce CO2 emissions considerably, and help in the goal to global net zero achievement. Ecowatt is actively engaging with several fashion brands in addressing their carbon footprint, and drawing up strategic plans to offset their current emissions.
An easy first step into carbon footprint reduction for major fashion brands is simply to ensure they are offsetting their emissions. The solutions that we at Ecowatt have tailored, specifically for industries just like the fashion industry, allow for immediate transformation. These solutions are the very simple investment into carbon credits and tokenised green assets designed by the Ecowatt engineering team.
We are developing technology that will enable fractionalised and therefore mass investment into renewable power stations and social impact projects. These types of solutions are simply for industries like that of fashion to begin their journey to net zero and make swift headway into undoing the damage so much of their supply chain has already done.
We’re passionate about the sustainable use of clothing and cosmetics. We understand that everyone loves to look their best and feel as comfortable as possible. But these luxuries do not need to come at the expense of the climate, and in turn the whole of humanity itself.
In a world where the climate is one of the most talked about topics today, clothing and textiles should be produced in a far more sustainable fashion. As a global company working with numerous blue chip brands, we’re proud to be working with this industry to make a difference and be part of fashion’s transformation to a net zero industry!
World Bank fashion projections: https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2019/09/23/costo-moda-medio-ambiente