Good On You rates 4,000 brands on their progress on climate change

Sustainability assessment company Good On You started a first-of-its-kind data project in 2021 to get a sense of how the fashion industry is working to address its impact on the planet. In time for Cop27, Good On You expanded the scope of the project and looked at the ratings of 4,180 brands, bypassing their own claims and analysis and rating their actions across more than 100 key sustainability issues on a scale of 1 to 5, from ” We avoid “, “Not good enough” and “It’s a start” to “Good” and “Great”.

Despite observing some positive steps forward, most of the biggest brands are not taking urgent action while less sustainable brands are leading the way. Overall, Good on You’s verdict is pretty clear: “There’s too much greenwashing, too little action.”

“The average fashion consumer could be forgiven for thinking that their favorite brands have responded robustly to climate concerns. From environmental missions to pledges to cut emissions and eliminate waste, the fashion industry seems to have transformed itself into a guardian of our collective future,” explains Good On You.

However, a closer look reveals that claims can be misleading, deceptive or simple advertising – greenwashing, in other words. The sustainability assessor advises avoiding these claims and instead being completely transparent – ​​about a brand’s impact and how they are addressing the key issues in their supply chains.

“Fashion and Cop27: Inaction on the Climate Emergency”. Image: Good for you

Here are some key statistics from the report:

Greenhouse gas emissions

Good On You found that 51 percent of major brands with greenhouse gas emissions targets do not state whether they are on track to meet them, “This underscores the need for governments to mandate reporting on greenhouse gas emissions.”

“We can’t just rely on consumers because consumers can’t be deeply educated in all these things. It’s too much of an expectation to put on ordinary people,” Maxine Bédat, author of “Unraveled” and director of the New Standard Institute, says of to take environmental measures. “And what we see is a tightening of the legislation.”

In addition, only 21 percent of major brands have a science-based greenhouse gas emissions target. This figure should be higher according to Good On You, as only they are set in line with the internationally agreed warming limit of 2 or 1.5 degrees.

The wrong base year can also distort the picture to a large extent: “When I first started working with climate change, many brands set 2007 – the year before the global financial crisis – as the base year. The emissions were quite high and then they fell, so if they set a goal of a 30 percent reduction compared to 2007, they were already there, they didn’t really need to do much, explains Kristian Hardiman, rating manager at Good On Du, and adds that he expects 2019, the year before Covid, to be the next base year.

The majority of brands receive a substandard rating

Using FashionUnited’s annual Most Recognized Fashion Brands Index, Good On You looked at the rankings of the most profitable brands, considered by many to be the benchmarks for profitability across private and public brands. But of the top 40 brands analyzed, the numbers paint a picture of the most powerful brands doing the least.

None of the 40 most profitable brands analyzed receives Good On You’s top rating – “Great” – for the environment. “This means these brands do not demonstrate leadership in environmental policy, transparency or addressing material issues across their supply chains,” Good On You finds.

Overall, only 8 percent of the brands analyzed received top scores, while 64 percent received the lowest environmental ratings, either “Not good enough” or “We avoid”.

Profit and environmental efforts seem to be polar opposites

The data found that 70 percent of the most profitable brands analyzed receive the two lowest ratings for the environment, “Not good enough” and “We avoid” – meaning that these brands publish little or no concrete information about their sustainability practices and do not manage their impact across their supply chains. In some cases, these brands may make ambiguous claims that are unlikely to have a significant impact.

Smaller brands lead the way

21 percent of brands scored “Good” or “Excellent” across all areas (environment, labor and animal welfare), showing how the industry can do much better. This includes a large proportion of small and independent brands along with a few large brands that are showing leadership.

“If we remove the more sustainable brands from the mix, you’re looking at a much darker picture. In other words, the sustainable brands in this sample show that it is possible to do much better,” sums up Good On You.

Climate Code shirt with temperature records on the inside of the sleeve. Image: DressCode

Conclusion

Unsurprisingly, Good On You’s advice to brands is to be more transparent – ​​about goals, policies, suppliers, even what didn’t work. The bottom line is to act now instead of later.

“We are at a critical tipping point for our future and the prevalence of greenwashing means we simply do not know if brands are acting on their own self-promoted agendas. Updates and aspirations are a key factor for Cop27 and indeed a livable climate in the future, but fashion brands such as plays a key role in protecting that future obscures reality. Some big brands are more transparent than they were a few years ago. We need to accelerate this change,” finds Good On You.

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