Hana Kajimura Sustainability Lead, Allbirds
A REAL LOW CARBON FOOTPRINT
At Allbirds, we’re on a mission to tread lighter on the planet. We think that any footprint is too big, and we are constantly aspiring to find solutions that respect the environment. We know that we have to change so the climate doesn’t.
Sustainability is a broad concept and means different things to different people. It can mean ocean plastic, deforestation, zero-waste, circularity – the list goes on.
While we try to weave sustainability into every facet of our business, we have a specific focus on carbon reduction.
Our ultimate goal as a business is to be like a tree – removing carbon from the atmosphere, leaving the planet cleaner than we found it.
Creating a low-carbon product begins with design. At Allbirds, we believe that comfort, style and sustainably don’t have to be mutually exclusive and we approach the design of our products with the right amount of ‘nothing’. This means that we strip away any unnecessary components, resulting in a really light shoe with a purpose-led aesthetic.
Lightness not only helps to lower the product’s carbon footprint but also contributes to our signature comfort. Underpinning it all are our natural, plant-based materials and natural fibres in place of ubiquitous petroleum-based synthetics. We also carefully select the right manufacturing partners, working hand-in-hand to reduce energy consumption and minimise waste.
We always ask ourselves ‘How can we drive our footprint to zero?’
That’s why we are so excited about natural materials: we think they can be the key to solving climate change. Plants’ natural ability to take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the ground, along with the ability of farmers to accelerate that process through regenerative agriculture practices is going to be the key to actually realising a zero-emissions future.
THE STANDARD SNEAKER EMITS 12.5KG CO2E – THE AVERAGE ALLBIRDS SHOE EMITS 7.6KG CO2E
We have a three-part approach to tackling climate change: first, we measure our carbon footprint, secondly, we find solutions to reduce it, and finally, we offset what remains.
In order to hold ourselves accountable to this mission, we decided to label all of our products with their carbon footprint.
Each shoe, sock or piece of underwear now carries a label making clear the climate impact of our entire supply chain.
Implementing this would be a lot harder for a large multinational company with thousands of products, but is one that Allbirds is well positioned start.
As we have seen recently, brands are starting to embrace this way of reporting on their environmental impact, understanding that in order to drive societal change, businesses have to take action and start educating their customers.
For example, while bigger brands have the necessary scale to bring about industrywide change – they have the purchasing power to drive down prices for sustainable materials, which in turn increases access for everyone – smaller brands can be agile, bringing products to market faster, and have the incentive to experiment and disrupt.
The road to a carbon-negative future won’t be paved by one company alone; it can only be tackled through collective action and knowledge-sharing. Just like smaller companies can influence bigger corporations, we can learn from their experience gathered over decades of perfecting and scaling manufacturing. We need near term, shoulder to shoulder collaboration at all scales.
Looking to the future, The Sustainable Development Goals are hugely influential when we map out our trajectory to 2030. The framework and the common language they provide for businesses across industries is incredibly important as we all need to step up a gear to mitigate the effects of climate change.
At Allbirds, we believe that we cannot afford to waste any more time waiting for perfect data and perfect solutions. We know enough to act. We must use all of the tools in our toolbox in the fight against climate change. Together we can build the plane as we fly it.