How a brand delivers, its products must reflect its social, ethical, and environmental values. So it is essential that you choose eco-friendly delivery solutions for your sustainable fashion brand.
As we know, the environmental impact of shipping is vast and includes air, water, and oil pollution. According to the estimative of The Third IMO GHG Study (2014) for the period 2007-2012, shipping emitted about 1,000 Mt CO2 per year. The Organization estimates that in 2012 carbon dioxide emissions from shipping were equal to 2.2% of the global human-made emissions in 2012.
To deal with this problem, sustainable fashion brands must choose, in addition to ecological packaging, delivery methods that seek to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
To help students of our Online Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program in Sustainable Fashion to find garments eco-friendly delivery solutions, Slow Innovation Brands has prepared this article.
We highlight carbon offset solutions that can be used by Slow Innovation Brands students to make delivery of its products more sustainable. Check it out below!
UPS CarbonNeutral® Program
UPS offers a carbon-neutral shipping option. The Program works through carbon offset projects. Quantities of CO2 are accounted for each package delivery.
For each tonne accounted, its equivalent is saved through verified emission reduction projects linked to the Program and located in different parts of the world.
The UP Program is verified by Natural Capital Partners and certified as CarbonNeutral® following The CarbonNeutral Protocol.
The symbol is a trademark of Natural Capital Partners, a world-leading brand mark that guarantees the quality and credibility of the UPS carbon neutral shipment program.
The permission to display the CarbonNeutral® mark is given when CO2 emissions have been measured and reduced to net zero through a program under The CarbonNeutral Protocol.
The Protocol assures the integrity of the carbon footprint assessments, the quality of the offsets purchased, and the guarantee that the Program has reduced emissions to net-zero. A board of independent advisors oversees the CarbonNeutral Protocol to Natural Capital Partners.
Customers taking part in the UPS carbon neutral program have to pay an incremental fee to offset the delivery climate impact. By clicking here, you can find more info about this neutral shipping program.
Carbon offsetting platforms
Another way to reduce and offset the carbon emissions from your sustainable fashion brand is through carbon offsetting projects.
Several platforms promise to help individuals and companies to quantify their footprints emissions and offset them through certified projects in different parts of the world. Below we share with you information about some of these platforms.
Global Standart ONG
Gold Standard was established in 2003 by WWF and other international NGOs.
On this carbon offsetting platform, you can choose from 24 projects located in countries like Camoboja, China, Mexico, and Malawi. The platform also has a filter where you can select community-based projects, energy efficiency, forests, renewable energy, waste management, and water.
The platform also provided a guide to help brands calculate their volume of emissions.
Although the guide is quite didactic, it requires some technical knowledge to apply the formulas correctly.
Co2nsensus is a software company that helps individuals and corporations manage and compensate for carbon emissions.
This carbon offsetting platform is easier to use than the previous one to calculate the emission volume of carbon dioxide. However, the number of projects that you can contribute to is smaller than the previous platform. Co2nsensus has 14 projects spread across Turkey, Kenya, Uruguay, United Kingdom, Bulgaria and Malawi. The projects available on the platform are verified by different entities, including the Global Standart NGO mentioned above.
Source: Co2nsensus calculator.
Like the previous carbon offsetting platforms, CoolEffect also can help to calculate and offset the carbon emissions from the delivery of your sustainable fashion products.
CoolEffect was launched at the Paris COP in 2015. Today, the platform collaborates with 15 projects worldwide, forming a community of more than 500 thousand members, according to the information available on its website.
The platform is excellent to use in the US, but for Europe, the carbon offset calculator is nor very accurate.
Transparency in Offset Carbon Programs
Carbon offset programs emerged in the 1990s. However, last year (2019), there has been a considerable increase in demand for these programs by individuals and companies.
Media activism has largely contributed to raising awareness about the amount of carbon spent on various activities that are part of our lives. Many consumers started to search for information to offset the impact generated by what they buy.
However, in an article published in Nation Geographic, writer Sara Gibbens draws attention to the lack of regulation and transparency of some businesses and corporations that provide this type of service.
The author also points out that many of the projects for which large sums of money have been donated are no longer in operation. ProPublica, for example, published a survey last year that points out several examples of carbon credit programs failing to protect tropical forests.
The growth in the sales volume of CoolEffect and Gold Standart, carbon offset vendors, proves the growing demand for these programs. The first one reports an increase of 700 percent in individual purchases since May. The second one reports a 4-fold increase in sales in 2019 compared to the previous year (Sara Gibbens, National Geographic, 2019).
To read the author's full article, you can click here.
Should you adopt a Carbon Offset Program for your sustainable fashion brand?
In our opinion, the lack of regulation and public oversight of carbon offset programs does not invalidate compensation initiatives through donations to social projects. However, it cannot be adopted without reflection.
Below you can find some tips that we used to share with our students and clients when they are planning their production with us. You can consider these tips to define how your sustainable fashion brand will offset carbon emissions, especially those involving manufacturing and shipping.
Less is more
Before thinking about how to offset your carbon emissions, think first in ways to avoid or reduce them. It can be done, for example, by producing locally. If you sell in Europe, do the manufacturing in Europe too. When scaling the sale of your sustainable manufactured products to other continents, consider also scaling up your production, finding local partners. Slow Innovation Brands has manufacturing partners distributed in different countries and continents that can help you in the task of producing locally with reasonable prices and excellent quality.
Visit your manufacturing partners in person and check their production carefully
Many brands and fashion factories are not transparent. Many do not disclose information about their employees, manufacturing partners and production costs on websites. Or they release random numbers without presenting the sources from which the data was taken, which makes it difficult to check the information.
We suggest you, as a sustainable fashion designer, require detailed information about licenses and certifications from your manufacturing partners. Try also get to know the seamstresses who work in the production of your clothing. Only by checking the factory structures carefully, you can be sure that the information shared is reliable.
Try to implement local projects
Try, alone, or in partnership with other local brands and makers, implement local carbon offset projects. If this is not possible for you yet, choose to donate to projects in operation for at least one year, that discloses their recipes with transparency, and that opens the possibility of visiting them in person.
Instead of choosing to donate to several projects, choose a single one, and follow its evolution as the years go by. Demand to know the destination of donations, the actions implemented each year, and how many people were impacted by a given project.
If you choose a carbon offset platform, try to find out:
- what are their business models;
- where their capital comes from;
- how many employees work to the company;
- how much they receive;
- if the platform charges commissions (and profit) for the donated amounts and how much percent.
We hope the information and tips we have shared with you in this article about carbon offset projects can be useful to the sustainable manufacture and delivery of your garments.
Does your brand adopt measures to reduce or compensate for carbon footprint? How do you do it? Please share your experience with the students of our Slow Fashion Innovation Program. Share experiences and suggestions on this important topic in the comments.
By Tatí Souza, Slow Innovation Brands Founder.