Top fashion companies must tighten up climate commitments, report says

Nov 6, 2019 by


Levi's jeans
© Levi’s (used with permission) — An innovative prototype has been created by Levi’s using post-consumer garment cotton waste

Two are doing well, but the rest aren’t doing nearly enough, according to

On TreeHugger we’ve written about report cards for cruise ships, sunscreen, palm oil, and electronics recycling, to name a few, but never fashion brands – until today. A new report by American-Canadian environmental advocacy group has ranked 45 top fashion companies according to their commitments to sustainability, and you may be surprised by the results.

All of the companies included in the report card are members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the Science Based Targets Initiative, and/or the United Nations Fashion Charter. In other words, these are companies that have publicly taken a pro-climate stance, striving to reduce the industry’s massive 8.1 percent share of global carbon emissions; but because there are no binding targets, they have not all taken the necessary steps for meaningful change. Perhaps’s report can be the accountability push that’s needed.

The report ranked companies based on a number of categories, all of which are required to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius. These include promises to reduce direct emissions from retail locations and entire supply chains (including factories and mills, transportation, raw material cultivation, and end-of-life disposal) and the adoption of renewable energy to power all operations, as well as longer-term commitments to reduce emissions by 2050.What the report card found is that only two companies – Levi’s and American Eagle Outfitters – are doing enough to fight climate change. These two received high scores in all categories, demonstrating honest and well-thought-out plans to reduce their impact. The next group, which includes Patagonia, Burberry, H&M, Adidas, and Eileen Fisher, have made promises that would keep warming below 2 degrees Celsius, but that’s not good enough. At the bottom are the brands whose continued practices “will put the world on a path to climate catastrophe, with 3+ degrees of warming.” These include Lululemon, Macy’s, L.L.Bean, Primark, MEC, Under Armor, REI, and J.C. Penney, among others. (View the rankings here.)

It is surprising to see those big outdoor gear retailers in the worst category, as they like to advertise themselves as advocates for the nature world; their business practices, however, clearly tell another story. Even Patagonia’s ranking in the second-place group is disappointing.

Report cards such as this one put pressure on retailers to clean up their acts, but they are also a useful tool for shoppers – which then turns up the pressure on retailers yet again. So keep this report card in mind the next time you head out to replace an item in your closet. Show the brands making a difference that you support their efforts, and tell the ones you’re unhappy with exactly why.

Read the full report here.

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