How To Reduce Carbon Footprint: offsetting for the future
Carbon offsetting is a phrase that’s cropped up often over the years – in boardrooms, on travel websites and on the back of cereal boxes – but it’s rarely clear to consumers how to reduce carbon footprint and what the process of offsetting actually entails. Offsetting is the act of compensating for the carbon emissions you create by investing in products and processes that save carbon dioxide, like planting trees.
The trouble with carbon offsetting is accurately calculating your impact in order to reduce greenhouse gasses in other areas. Luckily, there are now tools and calculators to help with this, however, most focus predominately on travel mileage and food consumption – as we know, going vegan or at least cutting meat from your diet can dramatically reduce your footprint.
We spoke with Sophie Dunster, Founder of fair fashion brand Gung Ho, to discuss carbon neutrality, how to manage offsetting your personal footprint as a consumer and why fashion may be the way forward if you want to hit the ground running.
What is carbon neutrality?
Businesses and individuals are becoming increasingly concerned with carbon impact. Many organisations are moving towards zero-carbon models and people all over the world have made changes in their daily lifestyles in order to combat greenhouse gas emissions. We can’t reverse the effects of climate change per se, but we can remedy them by changing the way we live and do business.
Carbon neutrality means that for every rail journey, every winter spent heating your home, each plane ticket or pair of jeans you buy, you contribute to rewilding and reforestation projects, wildlife conservation, methane reduction, fresh water protection and many more projects that preserve, protect and promote planetary health.
How is carbon footprint linked to to the fashion industry?
The fashion industry has a lot to make up for. With today’s consumption of fast fashion, the industry is responsible for roughly 10% of annual global carbon emissions, which is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
The industry is notorious for having both polluting and water-intensive supply chains, making it difficult to tell which products you should be buying. For example, one polyester shirt has a 5.5 kg carbon footprint, compared to just 2.1 kg for a cotton shirt.
So how can one ‘offset carbon’ as a consumer?
Gung Ho has just launched its Climate Change collection and with it, some new tech to make a difference, instantly. As a brand that encourages you to wear your heart on your sleeve, it makes sense that before you even receive your garment, the piece has done some serious good. No guilty purchases here. The COVID-19 outbreak has shown us glimpses of a world with less pollution; wildlife in our gardens, clean air and blue skies. It makes us realise that together our actions can actually make a difference.
We’ve teamed up with Neutreeno, a new sustainability company on a mission to deliver technology that unites us in our efforts reverse the trend of climate change. They are developing tech that empowers customers by allowing them to make their purchases carbon negative at checkout.
With just a simple click, the software calculates the emissions of the order and directs the funds to seriously impactful projects: those that decarbonise supply chains, generate cleantech innovation and repair the environment.
We’re currently running a Kickstarter campaign to promote and fund the new Climate Change collection. By inviting consumers to support the project, they can see the effects of carbon offsetting in fashion first hand.
Shouldn’t we all be trying to offset our carbon footprint?
Of course, but many people don’t know how to do this. That’s why we like working with Neutreeno. It’s simple, and surprisingly inexpensive too – the cost of the carbon offsetting tool makes up for about 1% of the order. Not only that, but to drive transparency and trust, 100% of customer remittances goes directly to the projects. By paying a small monthly fee for the software, brands like Gung Ho can send a strong message that we are partnering with our customers in this endeavour and giving them a choice.
How does Neutreeno work exactly?
Neutreeno’s approach to sustainable purchasing is holistic, unlike other schemes, which simply offset delivery. Instead, the company aims to evaluate full product life cycle emissions from ‘cradle-to-grave’ incorporating everything from planting a cotton seed to disposal of a shirt at the end of its life. No small task to be sure, but the founder Spencer Brennan, is a scientist who has been researching sustainability for a decade now and is determined to make a real impact. That’s why he makes calculations that round up, therefore giving a bit more back and making each purchase carbon negative.
Why is it so important to reduce carbon footprint? What does it mean for people and planet?
By supporting projects that drive environmental recovery and focusing on education, we improve the planet, its resources and make life easier, more pleasant, fairer and more rewarding for future generations. It’s so important to educate ourselves now, before it’s too late. Our planet’s natural resources are finite and human suffering should not be the cost of filling your wardrobe, your passport or your fridge.
We believe the future of fashion is less waste and a personalised service so Gung Ho has also partnered with One Tribe. This means that for every person who signs up to the One Tribe mailing list, 100m sq of Amazonian Rainforest is protected and stewarded by indigenous people.
It’s never been easier or less expensive to build a resilient, sustainable future. We hope to see many more brands from the sustainability community jump on board.
How can we reduce our carbon footprint now?
If you’re into sustainable purchasing, Neutreeno wants to hear from you. The organisation is deploying their tech for free to start, so you can try it out and join the movement. You can also check out the Gung Ho kickstarter campaign to pre-order a garment made especially for you, whilst also helping us fund this collection’s production.
You use tools like Compare Ethics to meaure global impact and verify products and brands. You can travel less and more consciously. You can eat foods produced locally and that are in season. And you can use fashion as a means of moving toward neutrality and safeguarding people and planet.