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Every garment has a story. A cost, and an impact - on people and planet. A fact, easily forgotten when faced with low prices and enticing marketing messages. We’re leaving no stone unturned - and no number in the dark. It’s time we - as companies and individuals - acknowledge our environmental debt: the true cost of making the clothing we otherwise take for granted. Every ounce of CO2, every drop of water, every spark of energy needs to be accounted for.
The fashion industry, and our apparel consumption, accounts for more environmental impact than we can afford. Globalized supply chains tap into low-labor cost countries with insufficient labor and environmental regulation, to offer us new outfits for less than a lunch. Unsurprisingly, the low price we've become used to pay, comes at a cost: broken labourers, escalating pollution, frail eco-and biodiversity, resource drought, mountains of trash and climate change. In a bid to meet consumers' increasing awareness that something is amiss, “sustainable” products are flooding the shelves. Not only do they fail to address the issue at hand: we're consuming more than our planet can take. They risk comforting us into consuming even more.
Unless we stop or drastically slow down our consumption, we're bound to break our planet. We can’t shop our way to sustainability. If that were the case, we could have offset our way back to pre-industrial revolution climate and pollution levels years ago. The reality is that every garment (or any other product for that matter) has an impact. No matter how well made (or marketed) it is. Rather than continuing - or as is the case even increasing - consumption of potentially slightly less bad goods, we need to be confronted with, and start paying for, the true cost of our clothing. We've accumulated an unimaginable environmental debt, and it's time to pay up.
The average Swede produces 8 tonnes of CO2e per year, when we should be at 2 tonnes to stay below 1.5°C global warming. We need to understand the impact of our clothing, to meaningfully address and reduce it. That's why we've deployed the knowledge of our traced supply chain to bring to light the true cost of creating our clothing with lifecycle impact assessments (LCIAs): Its CO2 emissions, water and energy consumption. We disclose these impacts for every single one of our garments, from fiber extraction all the way until finished garment, on every product page.
GARMENT LIFECYCLE IMPACT STAGES
All ASKET garments are now displayed with the results of our lifecycle impact assessments (kg CO2e, kWh energy use and m3 water consumption relative to the water scarcity in the production locations) alongside their traceability and cost transparency. A garment's impact occurs across four lifeycle stages: Production (from farming of raw materials to the final, packaged product on a warehouse shelf and all the transports in-between), Distribution (shipping and packaging to you), Use Phase (the impact of washing and drying your clothing) and End of life ( the impact of disposal of your clothing). On our product pages, we report the Production impact, cradle to gate, broken down into four tiers: Raw Materials, Milling, Manufacturing, Transports and Trims. While a trim, like a button, also has raw material, milling, manufacturing and transport processes, we bulk these into one group due to their relatively low impact share. Our definition of Production impact excludes your choice of packaging and shipping method. It also excludes use phase and end of life. We do this, because we have complete control over the impact from farm to finished garment, whereas transport, use phase and end of life impact is highly dependent on yourself. We strive to create zero-compromise garments, designed to stand the test of time in both quality and design, made from pure and clean fibers, in advanced and responsible facilities, reducing transports with a predominantly European supply chain and offering low-impact packaging and shipping choices. Once you buy a garment however, it's up to you.
You have significant influence over a garment's lifecycle impact.
The production impact of a garment (cradle-to-gate) includes the extraction of the raw material, it's refinement into a yarn, weaving or knitting into fabrics, wet processes to dye and treat the yarn and fabrics, cutting, sewing, washing and packing - along with all the supply chain transports between each facility, and from the last factory to our warehouse. A garment's production impact is absolute, it cannot be undone. That's why it's paramount to choose wisely what you actually need, care for your garments so they stay in use as long as possible, justifying the resources they took and the impact they had, in order to be created.
Distribution impact depends on which packaging you choose (our recycled paper-based packaging or reusable packaging), how and how far the garment is shipped to get to you. Returns and exchanges add more transports. With a central warehouse in Germany, all our European standard shipping methods are land-based, some last-mile legs are by electric cars or bicycles. Transports to the rest of the world are air-freight, with a significantly higher impact. Transport to a collection point might have a lower impact than home delivery, but it depends on how you get to your pickup point, or how the courier gets to your door.
A garment's use phase impact comes from washing and drying and depends on how often - and how - a garment is washed and dried, how efficient your white-goods are, how full you load a machine and what energy sources you have (renewable, coal or gas). You have significant influence over your use phase impact. Washing at higher temperatures (warm/40°C) and tumbling requires far more energy than washing cold and line drying. It also degrades a garment significantly faster, requiring new garment production to replace it. You can easily save time, money, resources and impact by choosing renewable energy, washing less and colder, in turn keeping your garments in use longer.
Most garments are thrown in the trash and incinerated. Less than 30% of garments collected are actually recycled, and less than 1% become new garments. Large portions of donated garments are shipped off to foreign markets for landfill or incineration elsewhere. Keep your garments in use, repair them when broken. We offer free repairs in our stores and send repair kits for local repairs. If a garment is no longer wanted, consider selling it or giving it to someone you know will use it. Our Revival Program rewards you for sending back unwanted ASKET garments, so we can resell or recycle them for you, ensuring nothing is landfilled or incinerated.
To date, our impact figures are estimates, calculated with the specificity of our garment traceability (where every step occurs, the transports in-between them, which components are made up of which materials and how much waste is created along the way). Our next step is to supplement these estimates with the actual energy, heating and water consumption and sources, to even more specifically understand the impact of our supply chain in order to work towards impact reduction. We'll never get to zero, remember, there's no such thing as a zero-impact product, but we're certain we'll find that we can do better. Later in 2023 we'll update our checkout with the impact of your package and shipping choice, and eventually your inbox will see two receipts after ordering from us: your order receipt, and your impact receipt.
In our annual progress report, we sum up our full impact as a business in the last year, including garment production, customer distribution and non-product related impacts such as our facilities (heating and energy) and operations (travel).
As with any impact calculation all our results are estimates subject to a high degree of uncertainty based on availability of data, impact calculation and allocation methodology and the scope of impact that we assume. We’ve chosen to define our scope as broad as possible and be as conservative as possible, making sure that we rather overstate than understate our impact. All numbers are subject to change as we continue to refine our methodology and supplement secondary data with primary data.
We've partnered with Vaayu to process and calculate our lifecycle impact assessments. Vaayu’s environmental footprint estimates for products are calculated within the framework of a cradle-to-grave lifecycle assessment (LCA) approach based general standards for LCA (ISO 14040 and 14044) and guided by more specific standards for different impact areas where relevant (for Climate Impact,ISO 14067; for Water Scarcity, the AWARE method; for Primary Energy Usage, the CED method).
Results for Climate Impact are expressed in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent (kg/CO2e), which also accounts for other relevant greenhouse gasses such as methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O). Vaayu uses the conversion factors from IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report to translate the different warming potentials and atmospheric lifespans of these greenhouse gases to CO2e for ease of understanding.
Product footprint estimates calculated by Vaayu incorporate all relevant life cycle stages within the boundary of the product system under review, including raw material extraction & processing, material production, wet processing, product assembly, distribution and deliveries (including primary and secondary packaging), use phase, and end of life. ASKET has chosen to exclude customer distribution, e-commerce packaging, use phase and end of life footprint estimates from the product footprints reported on product pages and aims to instead showcase these impacts with scenario discriptions on its care and impact pages.
Vaayu’s environmental footprint estimates rely on a combination of primary data received from thebrand partner (such as supplier-specific data from within the ASKET’s value chain) and secondary data(including data from published and peer-reviewed literature, established emission factors, and other high-quality representative data). Calculations by Vaayu and its modeling engine prioritize primary data in allcases when available.
For more information on the latest methodology used, please review the methodology document linked below.