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Climate Positive Fashion: Challenges and Future

Enough negatives have already been done to the environment, it’s high time to make some positives!

In the recent few decades, the concept of sustainable fashion has emerged as a ‘trend’ around the world. More and more fashion stakeholders are showing their concerns regarding the harm we are creating to the planet and are simultaneously working towards the betterment of it. Fashion companies from around the world are helping to provide solutions and since then multiple sustainable fashion-related jargon are thrown to the customers as a marketing gimmick. These terminologies are so varied and large in number that these are often found to be confusing to the commoners. Carbon-neutral, carbon positive, carbon negative, climate positive, etc. are some of the terms that are often misleading because of the lack of explanation provided with it. Let’s try to understand this commonly used jargon in simple language. 

But first, let’s realize this- any human activity, individual or collective, performed on the planet releases greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, Methane, Nitrous oxide and Fluorinated gases are the gases that are unitedly known as GHGs. However, carbon dioxide is the dominating gas that contributes to the planet negatively in massive amounts. The total amount of these gases generated by individual actions is known as the carbon footprint. The increasing amount of carbon footprint leads to climate change. 

What is climate-positive?

Any activity performed that goes beyond achieving carbon neutrality (equal balance of carbon dioxide generated and removed) and actually benefits the environment by eliminating more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere is climate positive. Say, you generate x amount of CO2 by doing any activity; a climate-positive situation would be when you eliminate that x amount of the generated CO2 plus an additional amount of CO2. This way, you keep the equation positive. 

What is climate-positive fashion?

Any fashion piece that is made by creating positive additions to the planet is climate-positive fashion. There are fashion brands that make efforts to offset their carbon footprint by 300%- that means they do more good to the planet than harm. 

What is the difference between climate neutral and climate positive fashion?

Climate-neutral fashion is any fashion item that balances its carbon footprint by absorbing or eliminating its carbon emissions equally. An example of neutralizing the carbon footprint is by investing in solar power, wind energy and reforestation. On the other hand, climate-positive fashion makes additions to the planet by doing good to it, let alone balancing the equal amount of carbon emission. For example, planting more trees. 

How can brands become more climate positive?

Analyse your impact > Take action > Reduce your impact.

In order to become positive about our actions, it is essential to realize the negative impact that we are creating and take action accordingly. Several big and small fashion companies have pledged to reduce their carbon emissions and are rigorously trying to make a positive impact. Here is how they are doing it –

  1. Reduce carbon emissions in the supply chain: Brands are committing to make efforts that constantly reduce their carbon footprints by using 100% renewable energy and avoiding unnecessary operations, travel and logistics. In addition to that, brands are finding solutions to offer more mindful and responsible packaging and delivery options. 
  2. Offset more carbon than what is emitted: The planet is damaged to the level that just being carbon neutral is not sufficient. Thus, brands are committing to make more efforts to eliminate CO2 than what they are emitting. This can be done by purchasing carbon offset credits and investing in forest preservation projects and rainforest and biodiversity protection schemes. These certified projects and schemes benefit the environment and the communities at large. 

It is a matter of great challenge to create a positive impact on the planet, however, with consistent efforts of all individuals and groups by investing in more nature-based projects that restore the environment, it would be painless to save the planet.

Is climate-positive fashion the future?

After all the harm that has been caused, we can no more risk not taking climate-positive actions. Some big brands and design houses are committing to be climate neutral in the next few years while others are pledging to become climate positive by the next decade. Recently, Burberry committed to becoming climate positive by 2040 while some are taking efforts to organise carbon neutral shows and create recycled clothing. 

Climate-positive fashion certainly is and must be the future. This is the only way we would be able to sustain the resources for our future generations.

What are the challenges in the path of climate-positive fashion?

The fashion industry is highly dependent on fossil fuels and it is really depleting our resources. While brands are making efforts to make positive additions to the environment, the rate at which existing resources are being used, it is challenging to sustain them for a longer period of time. As climate experts say, it’s good that brands are committing to becoming climate positive but do they really know how? It is yet to be figured out how to become climate positive while growing a business.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash