The fashion industry needs to cut its addiction to fossil fuels
August 25, 2020
It’s time for major brands to tackle the climate pollution in their supply chains
By Erdene Batzorig, Stand.earth
Let me cut to the chase: the fashion industry needs to invest in a green recovery and transition off of fossil fuels ASAP. The industry has been relying on deadly coal (which is one of the leading causes of toxic air pollution) for far too long.
How can they do it, you may ask? Stand.earth just launched a trailblazing new report, titled “Fashion forward: A roadmap to fossil free fashion”, which lays out a roadmap for how fashion companies can get a handle on their rapidly growing carbon footprint, and keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.
First and foremost, we need to get the eyes of company executives and sustainability directors on this report. They need to see that there is a clear path to kicking fossil fuels out of their supply chains.
The widespread usage of fossil fuels is one of fashion’s dirty little (not so secret) secrets that has made the industry one of the biggest contributors to global warming, with greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) exceeding both the aviation and shipping sectors. What’s even more alarming is that the industry’s GHGs were projected to increase another whopping 30% by 2030 — before COVID-19 hit!
Roadmap to fossil free fashion
Since waking up to their massive emissions, companies still haven’t done much beyond setting commitments. And we don’t have enough time for all talk and no action, because, hello!? We are living through a climate crisis.
So, we looked closely at where fashion’s GHG emissions are hiding and developed this pathway to help brands bounce back with sustainability as a priority.
Here’s the quick and dirty:
- Big commitments & true transparency: Scientists warn we must halve global emissions by the end of this decade. Fashion brands need to set big, bold commitments to do this and they need to be fully transparent with their emissions so we can keep them honest.
- Center renewable energy: In order to stop climate catastrophe we have to stop using highly polluting coal entirely in the next 10 years. Yet fashion brands like PVH Corp. (owner of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger) and VF Corp. (owner of Timberland and The North Face) rely on it to power their operations along with other dirty fossil fuels. Brands must center renewable energy in all their decisions to stop polluting the environment of their workers and driving global warming.
- Advocate for renewable energy: In countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam, the garment industry is a major economic player and can drive access to renewable energy if brands make it clear they won’t power with dirty fossil fuels. Before the pandemic, these countries had plans to expand the coal in their grids, in part to meet the needs of the industry.
- Fossil fuel free materials: Burning coal isn’t the only way the industry is reliant on fossil fuels. Heavily used fabrics like polyester are made entirely from fossil fuels and sometimes even fracked gas. Brands need to cut the fossil fuels out, close the loop with recycled materials, and design for durability.
- Greener shipping: Several global brands are already working on solutions to reduce their shipping footprint. But we need to ensure that they’re using cleaner ships and cleaner fuel.
Fashion brands need to clean up their act
Now that you have a better idea of the five key areas that need to be prioritized, will you make sure that companies are on the same page as us?
We know the fashion industry has been hit hard by the unforeseen effects of COVID-19, but it is a wakeup call for the industry to see the stark future that awaits if they don’t act on climate change now. The fashion industry is a huge puzzle piece in our fight against climate change considering how big its GHGs are and how influential the industry is. In this historic reset of the world, fashion companies need to make sustainability a business priority and not just a trend they participate in. With scientists warning that global emissions must be cut in half by 2030, with a rapid phase out of coal, now is the time for companies to take action.
Thanks to your relentless support, we are shifting fashion brands one by one onto a cleaner and more transparent path. Corporations can no longer fly under the radar while they pollute our environment. We will continue to push the industry to phase out fossil fuels, and cut their GHGs in accordance with current global climate goals.
In a time of such monumental change, the fashion industry needs to build a greener and cleaner future. Will you take a minute to tweet our report to fashion companies so that they can use as it a starting point in their climate action?