What Is Carbon Neutral Fashion & Why It's (Not) Good (Enough)

Giada Nizzoli

What Is Carbon Neutral Fashion & Why It's (Not) Good (Enough)

The term “carbon neutral fashion” has probably reminded you of something: that CO2 and the clothing sector are often talked about together. Why is that?

Because the fashion industry produces TONS of it.

And we’re not exaggerating. It literally produces 2.1 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases every year. 

Carbon neutral fashion in context

The current situation is obviously not sustainable. So, some brands like Gucci, Patagonia, and Knickey have decided to become (or strive towards becoming) carbon neutral instead.

Fashion model surrounded by trees

What does carbon neutral mean on clothing?

Carbon neutral clothing means that it’s produced by a brand that offsets its carbon emissions so as to balance them out. For example, this can involve supporting charities that plant trees, which then absorb CO2.

Some fashion companies consider themselves to be carbon neutral for simply offsetting the carbon emissions of their shipping or relying on electric vehicles.

However, we believe that carbon neutral fashion should involve all the stages of the supply chain. In fact, most of the damage happens during the initial production phase!

Carbon neutral fashion is more than just green shipping 

Don’t get us wrong: offsetting deliveries and shipping emissions is definitely a good idea (kudos to all the brands already doing it!). However, there’s more to it.

For instance:

So, if a brand really wants to produce carbon neutral clothing, it should look beyond shipping alone. It could also choose to work with a third party to calculate its entire carbon footprint and even consider getting certified as a carbon neutral fashion brand.

CO2 which is part of climate neutral fashion

And, anyway, offsetting carbon emissions is not enough

Of course, planting trees and offsetting emissions is important. But… doing so without actually trying to do better in the first place? It could almost be considered greenwashing, in a way.

This is because:

  • Carbon emissions have several knock-on effects that should also be considered
  • We should all try to actively reduce our emissions, not just offset them

To put it into perspective, imagine that you fly frequently and offset the emissions of your flights. Sure, the latter is always good. But maybe, in some cases, it might be worth choosing to take the train instead of a plane?

Carbon neutral clothing is an important first step. Carbon negative fashion is a better solution

Climate protest

Instead of focusing on quick patches like planting trees, we believe the fashion industry should work towards becoming carbon negative (or climate positive).

This means eliminating or greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the entire supply chain and removing additional carbon from the air.

For example, according to Stand Earth, a brand’s roadmap to fossil-free fashion should involve:

  • Making more ambitious sustainability commitments and keeping oneself accountable by being transparent
  • Using and actively advocating for renewable energy
  • Choosing materials that last longer and are lower on carbon emissions
  • Providing greener shipping options

Basically, at Project Cece, we really appreciate carbon neutral fashion brands that plant trees or find their own way of being more eco-friendly. We highly encourage you to show them love and support them as a consumer!

However, we also believe that this industry should strive to do better and look beyond offsetting emissions, optimising the supply chain at every stage.

Carbon neutral fashion is a start. Climate positivity is the goal.

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