The One Thing Your Brand Should Do to be More Sustainable

career advice sustainable business Aug 24, 2022

Your brand is ready to tackle sustainability, which is great, but where should you start? The team has probably already started looking at materials, waste solutions, or maybe even packaging alternatives. We love the energy and enthusiasm, but we have to pump the breaks. 

There’s one thing your team absolutely has to do before diving into the areas listed above.

The number one thing you and your team need to start with is learning more

If you prefer to watch, Derek did a great video breaking this down and gives some great insight into why this is so important. If you want to stick to reading, let’s get into why learning more can make a huge difference in your brand’s sustainability success.

Sustainability and sustainable apparel can be like those haunted houses that come around every Halloween - you and your friends timidly walk down the hallway, passing through one room after the other as tension builds because you never know when the next jump scare is going to surprise you and leave you grasping onto your friends, hoping they don’t leave you behind. 

Instead of actors in special effects makeup, sustainability can surprise us with price constraints, a lack of verifiable data, and a miscommunication of sustainability efforts (greenwishing or greenwashing). However, the more you know, the less likely you are to be scared off by these surprises.  #keeplearning 😊

As Derek puts it - “We can’t tackle what we don’t know” 

Sometimes the easiest place to start is the area you’re most passionate about. If you’re interested in water impacts, learn everything you can about how your brand and suppliers manage water. If you want to implement a recommerce program at your brand, explore all the options to help you facilitate this. The great thing about sustainability is that everything is on the table, and everything is connected. Once you master one topic, you’ll find that it goes hand-in-hand with another topic. 

There are 3 other points that we think you guys should start to tackle before you get into the nitty-gritty:

  1. Understand your supply chain (aka Traceability)
  2. Talk about the climate crisis
  3. Get buy-in from the top (aka the grilled cheese effect)

Everything is connected, and all of our favorite sustainability topics connect back to these three things. 

Before we try to implement a new materials program, we should seek to understand our supply chain. We need to know where our materials are coming from (cradle to gate), who’s making our clothes, and what practices are being used throughout all stages of production. 

As we try to limit our energy uses at HQ, we need to talk about how the brand is impacting the climate crisis. Where else can we look and who can we talk to? Do we have data on our emissions? Does that data include Scope 1, Scope 2, and Scope 3 emissions? Are we accounting for our upstream and downstream emissions? Are there deforestation risks in the supply chain? Are we tackling multiple targets in SDG 13? Be sure to continuously talk to suppliers, employees, and customers.

Before we can create a strategy, we need to make sure we have buy-in from leadership. Has the team made a valid and persuasive argument to support sustainability initiatives? What budget has your team been given? Are your team and leadership working collaboratively to change the DNA of your business to include sustainability as a foundational pillar? 

Chances are you’ll hit some roadblocks throughout the sustainability journey, but this is an exercise in resiliency - you and your team will weather the storm and will eventually come out of it stronger than before. Remember to keep an open mind, ask questions, and keep learning.

If you have a sustainability-related question or topic you’d like to discuss, please email us at [email protected]

Don’t forget to sign up for our Newsletter and join our LinkedIn Group to stay up to date on the latest in sustainability - we hope to see you there!

Thanks,

McKenzie

#keeplearning #sustainablebusiness #careeradvice

Top 35 Things to Know if  you're learning about Sustainability in the Apparel Industry. Have you downloaded the guide yet?

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