Greenwashing from the top down
Net zero fashion is one of the latest buzzwords in sustainability. But can we trust those who promote their garments with this label?
We know that green eco-whatever labels have flooded the fashion industry, like any other activity related to selling products or services. The food industry was probably the first to launch organic products, which, by itself, means nothing. See the video here. Also, according to Fondazione Veronesi, the differences between organic and non-organic food are few and negligible.
After the food industry, it was time for fashion, furniture and now, sustainable tourism, all of which sound like enormous bullshit.
Net zero fashion according to the UN
Take the UN playbook on “Sustainable Fashion Communication.” Though the basic principle, fighting overconsumption, is valuable, we didn’t like the fact they mention some fashion brands. It seems like they take for granted that these brands are doing great work in terms of sustainability while they are perfectly aware that there is zero control!
For instance, the UN playbook mentions Allbirds.
“Footwear brand Allbirds developed a life cycle assessment (LCA) tool to estimate the cradle-to-grave carbon footprint of its products.”
“Allbirds then took it a step further in 2023 announcing what it refers to as the world’s first net zero carbon shoe.”
At some point, a line that says: “According to the company’s assessment, on average, a pair of Allbirds shoes has a footprint of 7.12 kg CO2e.”
That “according to the company” sounds really weird! Even more, coming from the UN! They better avoid mentioning any fashion brand…
Net zero fashion according to Business of Fashion
By the way, a few days later, a newsletter from the Business of Fashion got our attention. It was about Allbirds and the launch of their new sneakers. We quote B.O.F:
“By focusing on materials that draw down more carbon than they emit and lowering transport and manufacturing impact as much as possible, the brand says it has succeeded in designing ‘the world’s first net zero-carbon shoe.’ But the basis of such calculations for the industry is fraught. Fashion’s environmental impact data is notoriously poor and accepted standards for carbon accounting are still evolving, meaning net-zero product claims are testing new ground.”
Net zero according to science
So what? The UN released the playbook to help spread sustainable fashion communication, but they did not do a great job. It seems like they are greenwashing from the top down.
Since there is no control, it is not serious to mention fashion brands at all. Also, since the UN says “lead with science” – on this point, we totally agree! So, here is what the climate scientist Kevin Anderson says about net zero:
Lead with science UN, and reveal what’s behind net zero fashion!