Stand.Earth Protests Lululemon Over Dirty Sneakers As Fight For Clean Fashion Heats Up

Protesters descended on Lululemon’s Kitsilano store in Vancouver last Saturday to steal some of the thunder from the company’s launch of its debut shoe collection.

Claiming Lululemon’s shoes are ‘full of smut’, the small group of activists practiced outside the store and packed one of Lululemon’s new Blissfeel women’s running shoes with fake smut to make their point of sight.

The protest was organized by Stand.earth, the environmental activist nonprofit formerly known as ForestEthics, and it was led by Erdene Batzorig, Stand.earth’s digital activist for her Fossil Free Fashion initiative.

Aiming at Lululemon’s use of coal-fired factories in China to produce the new line of women’s shoes, Batzorig said in a statement:

“Lululemon’s new line of women’s running shoes might be dubbed the ‘Blissfeel’ for the way they feel on your feet, but the coal-fired construction of these shoes is anything but happy for people and climate. C This is especially the case for women, who often bear the brunt of Lululemon’s climate and air pollution – especially in countries like China, Vietnam and Bangladesh – where its products are made.

This isn’t the first time Lululemon has come under pressure for contributing to climate change. Last year, the company got tough when it became the official apparel supplier to Team Canada for the 2022 Olympics and the next three Olympics.

Lululemon will report its fiscal 2021 results this week, but in the third quarter its revenue grew more than 50% year-over-year to $4.2 billion and it provided guidance for year-end revenue will reach between $6.25 billion and $6.29 billion.

Perhaps due to its rapid growth and Vancouver headquarters, Lululemon has become Stand.earth’s newest cause celebre.

In 2005, Victoria’s Secret came under fire when the group, then called ForestEthics, launched a grassroots campaign against the negative environmental impacts of the catalog industry. The group won in late 2006 when Victoria’s Secret agreed to dramatically increase its use of recycled paper.

dirty fashion

With the fashion industry once again in its sights, Stand.earth has many targets besides Lululemon. Ahead of the UN climate change conference COP26 last year, it released a report identifying nine fashion retailers with revenues of over $4 billion that are failing to meet commitments to reduce fossil fuels in the chain. supply.

In addition to Lululemon, he called American Eagle Outfitters, Fast Retailing (Uniqlo), Gap, H&M, Inditex (Zara), Kering (Gucci), Levi’s and Nike big polluters.

Finding that eight of the nine companies surveyed increased their emissions in 2019, after all pledging to reduce them as part of the United Nations Fashion Industry Charter on Climate Change, Stand.earth predicts that all will not meet the decarbonization targets by 2030.

“Fashion companies have for too long focused on reducing energy consumption in their own stores, implementing greenwashing practices such as recycling polyester from single-use plastics and misleading the promise of ‘net zero,'” said Muhannad Malas, Stand.earth’s climate campaign manager.

“But the steady increase in these brands’ climate emissions clearly shows that these solutions are far from sufficient to combat the pollution they generate,” he added.

Pass/Fail

Overall, Stand.earth identified 19 out of 47 fashion brands surveyed that score a failing grade in its Fossil Free Fashion Scorecard, including Under Armour, Prada, Georgio Armani, LVMH, Everlane and Hugo Boss.

Lululemon isn’t even among them, squeaking past with a D- rating, along with Burberry, Chanel, Gant and Guess. Mammut, the Swiss high-end outdoor fashion company, scored the highest, but only a B-, and Nike is next with a C+.

Threatening “significant reputational and investor risk” for fashion brands that fail to meet their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 under the Paris Agreement, Stand.earth warns challenged the 47 fashion brands to deploy renewable energy in their supply chain, provide transparency in supply chain emissions, reduce the use of fossil-fueled fabrics and phase out coal-fired boilers in their factories.

Particularly pointed criticism is aimed at brands for their statements about carbon-neutral and climate-positive goals that aren’t backed up by “robust emission reduction or renewable energy targets.”

The report states, “In many cases, these increasingly popular buzzwords give the wrong impression about corporate decarbonization efforts,” as it calls out Gap and Ralph Lauren for greenwashing with “carbon credits” and not making the necessary changes.

“For climate neutrality or positivity goals to make sense, brands must also commit to halving their emissions across the value chain and switching from fossil fuels to renewables to power manufacturing.” , says the report.

Achievable goals or big ambitions

Lululemon did not respond to request for comment before posting, but its official statements indicate that it is on the right side of the environmental movement.

Lululemon is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and requires its suppliers to use the HIGG INDEX 2.0 to measure environmental impacts related to energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, wastewater/effluent, air emissions, waste and chemical management.

And he signed the United Nations Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action which called on the industry to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 on the way to zero. net emission no later than 2050.

But given the current state of the global economy and supply chain disrupted by the pandemic and compounded by the danger of escalating military action due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, one wonders if a fashion brand can meet the industry’s ambitious environmental goals. set up for 2030.

Signing petitions and pledges is one thing, but achieving those goals is another. We can hope, but hope is not a strategy.

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