Being 'Climate Neutral', reducing our Carbon impact. What does this really mean for fashion brands?

Currently the planet has too much carbon dioxide in it's atmosphere, which is the main factor in the heating up of the planet. Humans have abused the earth's natural carbon sources, through increased fossil fuel extraction for energy, transport and to power industry, thus releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Further more, we have depleted the earth's natural ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by not taking care of our natural carbon sinks such as forests, soils and the oceans.

So what can the fashion industry do to change and make an impact fast!? Being aligned with Government policy and regularity profession bodies working for a positive change at a systemic level is an important factor in reducing carbon emissions but unfortunately it’s not working fast enough! The choices and collaboration of brands, suppliers, producers and consumers TODAY can help to accelerate emission reductions by bringing awareness to our supply chain and how we work together.

The fashion industry accounts for approx. 4% of greenhouse gas emissions and when this is broken down into sectors, 70% of the emissions are from UPSTREAM activities. This means supply chain, including RAW MATERIAL PRODUCTION + PROCESSING. (globalfashionagenda , 2020). Whilst achieving comprehensive, accurate information and transparency in this area can be challenging for designers and buyers, we know that yarn preparation, dyeing, finishing and fibre production tend to be the most carbon intensive phases.

Many fashion brands overlook their responsibility and impact on these areas and focus on accountability for their own operations (such as office, transport, retail) only. To really be making a maximum and immediate impact towards climate action, brands need to bring awareness and accountability to carbon emissions throughout all operations, including material source and production.

Start up brands, although have the huge challenge of learning a lot, quickly, are actually very well placed to be able to make a clear, conscious impact without the ways of the 'old systems' holding them back. Supply chains can be considered thoroughly from the beginning and authentic, transparent and sustainable partnerships with suppliers established. New and small brands can learn and adapt quicker to the current opportunities and limitations to embrace a carbon neutral supply chain, thus setting themselves up for sustainability and longevity.

Micro and small businesses make up over 99% of businesses in the UK and by watching how they are operating through the current challenges, we can get vital insights which governments can then have the opportunity to cement into policy.

For further reading, check out:

@beclimateneutral : provides tools and a framework to help brands to measure and offset and reduce their emissions, including upstream supply chain (see Scope 3 criteria).

@fash_rev : the global movement for a fashion industry that values people and planet over profit. Fantastic source for providing clear facts and communication tools.

@sustainable_fashion_collective : a holistic and expert members club offering vast and in depth resources on all areas of sustainable fashion. Particularly great for start ups and entrepreneurs looking to learn about what’s involved in starting a brand and how best to approach it in the most eco responsible way.

@thesustainableangle : support projects with a focus on sustainability in fabrics and textiles and founders of #futurefabricsexpo 22 June- 2 July 2021! A fantastic in person and virtual destination for clear and educational information on sustainable materials, networking and advice, with supplier insight.