A new campaign wants retailers and brands to set emission reduction goals across the whole supply chain

A new campaign wants retailers and brands to set emission reduction goals across the whole supply chain

Top denim brands have come under fire from consumer and environmental groups for dragging their feet on committing to climate goals across their entire supply chains.

'Filthy Fashion', a newly-launched campaign from Stand.earth in partnership with consumer group SumOfUs, has organised a petition – so far signed by more than 118,000 people – asking jeans companies to commit to sustainable, substantive environmental goals and immediately begin addressing the greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) created by denim manufacturing.

Brands including Levi's, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess, Express, American Eagle Outfitters, Wrangler and Lee are being urged to commit to immediate and strong climate reduction targets.

The campaign groups have also released a fashion industry climate 'shopping list,' to help fact check commitments made by fashion brands.

This includes:

  • Making sure emissions reductions apply across the whole supply chain – whether they own their factories or use contract manufacturers abroad – not just at retail locations and head offices;
  • Making a longer-term vision committing to major GHG reductions beyond the next 10 years;
  • Moving the entire supply chain to 100% renewable energy; and
  • Providing full transparency on GHGs in their entire supply chain.

View the fashion industry climate 'shopping list' here

Their calls come as six leading apparel companies – including Levi's, Gap, Guess and VF Corp (owner of the Wrangler and Lee brands) – recently announced their intention to set climate targets in two years through the Science-Based Targets (SBT) project.

Gap, Nike and VF join pledge to tackle climate change

But 'Filthy Fashion' wants them to go further. "Real climate action requires committing to significant climate goals now for their entire supply chain and a move to renewable energy.

"While a SBT can be a useful tool, unless coupled with immediate action, bold targets and commitments to renewables, a weak SBT can also provide PR cover for climate laggards."

According to reports from the Carbon Disclosure Project, denim and apparel companies ignore as much as 90% of the climate pollution they generate.

"Hundreds of forest fires burn out of control on the Western side of our continent while hurricane after hurricane pummels the South and East and the fashion industry waits for someone else to address the climate crisis," says Todd Paglia, executive director of Stand.earth.

Companies like Mars and Apple have each pledged a billion dollars for climate solutions.

"In the absence of leadership from the Trump administration, apparel companies need to take meaningful action today to reduce the devastating climate impacts of their production around the world," adds Liz McDowell, campaign director at SumOfUs. "Promising to make promises two years down the road just doesn't cut it."

According to one study, the fashion industry is responsible for a whopping 3.0-5.4% of all global climate emissions when the full supply chain is considered.

Another rough analysis estimates the global textile and apparel industry burned the equivalent of 291bn pounds of coal in 2008 to produce more than 132bn pounds of fabric – more coal than was mined last year in all of Pennsylvania and West Virginia combined. Coal is a primary power source used for the electrical grid in many of countries, such as key apparel producers China and Vietnam.