Net zero fashion

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:

“Net Zero is a real dangerous turn in my view, and if you hear the language of net zero, I’d be very cautious about the optimism of the person who’s saying it actually has. Unpick it, reveal what’s behind it, and you’ll realise what they mean, and what they mean is NOT zero emissions, not net zero, not zero emissions. 
I always say ‘net zero’ is Latin for ‘kick the can down the road.”

Kevin Anderson

Lead with science UN, and reveal what’s behind net zero fashion!

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Where are we heading

Climate change: are we doing enough?

A true paradise: where are we heading – is the video released by Kevin Anderson, a climate scientist. And you cannot miss it!

“We are 32 years from the first major scientific report on climate change… What have we done since then?” “All we are doing so far is giving rhetoric and optimism and greenwash.”
“There is plenty of talk but no action.”- Anderson says.

When we hear people talking about sustainability, it seems like they limit the debate to specific fields without considering the fact that sustainability regards our whole lifestyle and all of us. However, with the bad habit of passing the buck and, most of all, thanks to a lot of greenwashing, we aren’t making any progress. Indeed, the climate disaster is happening faster than many thought. And it’s frustrating because greenwashing makes it impossible to have honest conversations. In fact, the more governments, companies, and brands fake, the more they get attention. And people trust them! But we would love to ask all these green companies: if they are really doing so good, why are emissions going up?

In the end, some people see the urgency, but most do not move a finger to change their habits! They are not interested in climate change, or change isn’t convenient for them. So they greenwash.

Must-see video!

Kevin Anderson released the video here below: Where are we heading. It’s a warning which invites us to open our eyes and stop believing political rhetoric and greenwashing. And also calls on us to push for bold policy changes.

Every word is precious, but we highlight some passages:
“Pseudo technologies are a facade to avoid asking the difficult political and equity based questions. ‘Net Zero’ is a real dangerous turn in my view, and really means NOT zero. I always say ‘net zero’ is latin for ‘kick the can down the road.”

“I have to be honest and say as someone who has worked on climate change for years, my best guess is that we are going to fail. But it is a choice to fail. Political leaders, academia and journalism, have repeatedly chosen to fail on climate for 30 years.”

His powerful words call for radical change. Furthermore, he makes it clear, politicians or corporations won’t drive the change. The hope comes from the common people, civil society, who can ask for more.

So, where are we heading? With his final words, Kevin Anderson opens to hope:
“It does come down to all of us to play our role as best that we can. It is a choice to fail and it is a choice to succeed.”

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