The fashion industry creates a lot of waste and harms the environment. In tune with new trends and consumer demands for fast fashion, fashion companies must constantly create new products for consumers that will easily throw older items into their wardrobes. Ethical fashion, however, is a growing movement that responds to growing consumer pressures and advocates for companies to center sustainability in their operations, which is leading some companies to find more environmentally friendly processes.
Reformation is a women’s clothing company that has been at the forefront of sustainable fashion. Since 2015, the company has been carbon neutral and has set an ambitious goal of becoming climate positive by 2025. Kathleen Talbot, Director of Sustainability and Vice President of Operations at Reformation, says the company realizes, however, that his actions alone will not be enough to reverse the trend of climate change. To that end, the company plans to do something drastic in today’s fierce economy: it plans to share its positive climate strategies with other companies.
We’ve found it more effective to lead with education and then start with easy-to-adopt and accessible climate actions, says Talbot. We introduced Carbon is canceled in 2019, a program offering consumers simple ways to reduce or offset their personal carbon footprint. We have basically taken solutions that we use as a brand to buy renewable energy offsets and credits and made them available to our customers.
As part of my research on businesses with a, I spoke to Talbot about how Reformation is working to rebuild the waste industry through education and inspiration into an industry with reduced, neutral or even positive impact, as well as the role employees play in move the business and industry forward.
As brands seek to be at the forefront of climate and carbon solutions, what can the Reform share? What have you learned to make other brands emulate by providing ways for customers to get involved in climate action?
We have been carbon, waste and water neutral since 2015, but we realize that neutrality is not enough. In December, we announced that the climate would be positive by 2025. Most carbon neutral strategies rely too much on offsetting. With this commitment, let’s go further to actively reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and invest in solutions with a net positive impact.
We have seen many industrial groups and big brands also make important climate commitments, but not with enough urgency or immediate action. The climate crisis cannot wait until 2040 or 2050, accelerating progress is imperative in order to protect people and our planet. By setting a 2025 goal, be one of the first brands to achieve climate positivity and hope to inspire others to join us on this critical journey. Would make our positive climate roadmap publicly available this year, and will continue to report on our progress in our quarterly sustainability reports.
We have found it to be more effective to lead with education and then start with easy to adopt and accessible climate actions. We introduced Carbon is canceled in 2019, a program offering consumers simple ways to reduce or offset their personal carbon footprint. We have basically taken solutions that we use as a brand to buy renewable energy offsets and credits and made them available to our customers.
Sure our website, customers can convert their electric bill to wind power through Arcadia Power, a company designed to provide a free and easy way for everyone to choose renewable energy in exchange for a $ 125 reform credit. Customers can also purchase climate credits from our website to support verified carbon offset projects, such as renewable energy and forestry projects that actively reduce CO2 emissions. We offer five options, ranging from $ 60 to $ 400 and six to 12 months of carbon offset coverage for individuals, families and even weddings.
How do you approach the integration of solutions throughout your operations? What guides your decisions and what do you think certain brands are missing with specific sustainable development initiatives?
At Reformation, we embed low impact metrics into all aspects of the business and consider the sustainability implications of all decisions. By setting standards for better materials and better manufacturing, companies can then move from a single sustainable product capsule to a more integrated business model.
Up to two-thirds of the lasting impact of fashion occurs at the raw material stage before the clothes are actually made. Fiber selection also affects how you wash the garment and possibly recycle it someday, two important factors to consider when it comes to environmental impact. That is why we source exclusively on the basis of our benchmark fiber standards, so we only approve those with the best combined social and environmental impact. We have tried to make these standards as holistic as possible, taking into account water input, energy input, land use, ecotoxicity, greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse, human toxicity, availability and price.
For more context, we’ve created a fully sustainable garment factory in Los Angeles. We use the most efficient, environmentally friendly and pro-social technologies and practices that we can find. We invest in green building infrastructure to minimize our waste, water and energy footprints throughout our supply chain, and we are powered by renewable energy. Everything, down to cleaning products and coffee, must meet our green purchasing standards. We offset all carbon emissions associated with our shipments. Everything at our facilities, from pens to cleaning products and packaging, is environmentally friendly.
We opened our factory to weekly tours in 2017, which is unprecedented in the industry, giving the public an inside look at the factory and its sustainable practices. Due to COVID, our factory tours are on hold, but we looked forward to starting over once they are safe. We accompany customers to the factory, where we produce garments from start to finish, including sampling, cutting, sewing and packaging.
In terms of broader sustainable development strategies, the important thing is not to lose sight of the long-term goals. While it is essential to devote resources to immediate survival, it is also possible to rethink business models and what your business can do better or differently. Now is the time to change the strategy and broader business model rather than just launching a program or capsule collection. In this way, COVID-19 and the impacts in the market can be a catalyst for greater change and move the industry forward.
What do you think will happen in the future that will make this type of ethical fashion accessible to more people and that can bring about ethical treatment of fashion-conscious workers? Does politics have a role to play?
In order to make ethical fashion accessible to more people, there needs to be a wider awareness and demand from consumers. We have seen consumers demand better and more ethical operations before, especially when it comes to the way workers are treated, and this will only increase over time. As an industry, we must continue to evolve in this spirit.
We need to work as an industry to invest and expand our scale behind the scenes, so that sustainable fashion is more accessible and can be decoupled from higher costs. Our customers have told us they would like to see more accessible prices, so this is something that we are actively working on expanding. Our mission is to bring sustainable fashion to everyone, and now more than ever it is important for us to develop ways to make this true. Resale is another great option for buying sustainable products in an affordable way. Our customers can currently purchase pre-loved Reformation products from sites like ThredUp, and were working on some of our own initiatives to make it easier for consumers to purchase less used and more affordable Ref items.
When it comes to social responsibility, there is general alignment to the basics and compliance, but it doesn’t go far enough to really improve the lives of workers. A genuine brand commitment to supporting a living wage and ensuring the dignity of the people behind clothing is still an emerging practice. Owning our factory allows us to embed ethical practices into our direct supply chain. At Reformation, we’re also investing in the people who make this revolution possible by paying 100% of our employees a living wage and providing them with on-the-job training and growth opportunities. For external partners, we have a rigorous selection process to ensure that they share our values of sustainability, transparency and accountability.
We do our best to educate our clients on how to lead a more sustainable lifestyle through our quarterly sustainability reports, social media channels, newsletters and website in the hope that our efforts will inspire our customers to make informed fashion choices. As a brand, we believe that our role is to educate and give consumers the information they need, to offer real solutions and to let them decide how they want to shop.
Policies and regulations will likely be needed to bring about the changes we need at the necessary pace. This could help set new standards for compliance and boost decision-making by industry players when financial investment or trade-offs are high, but work is essential to meeting climate commitments or other cross-sectoral goals. .
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