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Gucci pledges to be carbon neutral by the end of this month

Words by Tess Macallan

Not to be confused with zero-carbon.

Amidst increasing environmental disasters and extreme weather patterns, the fashion industry is being held more accountable for its impact on the planet.

On day one of London Fashion Week, Extinction Rebellion protesters held a fashion funeral outside the venue. Activists threw fake blood to represent how the industry’s “business as usual” approach is resulting in the extinction of life on earth. The group is calling for the entire industry to be cancelled.

At the same time, Gucci has announced that the brand will become an entirely carbon neutral company. Not to be confused with carbon free, the strategy is focused on reduction, elimination and offsetting “unavoidable emissions” from all areas of the business.

Rather than not producing any emissions at all, Gucci will offset all greenhouse gases produced by third party manufacturers, materials suppliers, and fuel emissions from travels to and from runway shows by purchasing carbon credits to fund renewable energy initiatives elsewhere around the world.

Gucci will partner with United Nations project Redd+, working with them to reduce emissions from deforestation on four projects supporting forest conservation in Peru, Kenya, Indonesia and Cambodia to offset carbon emissions it cannot eliminate. 

As Elizabeth Sergan at Fast Company notes, it is very difficult to track exactly how much carbon a fashion brand expels as the network of the supply chain in the globalised world is so intricate. However, this doesn’t absolve action from within the industry as it is estimated to make up more than 8% of current global carbon emissions.

Gucci is setting a new standard in the industry, moving beyond the greenwashing tactics of companies that roll out occasional ‘conscious’ collections.

It’s an ambitious plan, and significantly more than other major fashion players have promised.

Gucci’s CEO, Marco Bizzarri, is aware that the move won’t appease Extinction Rebellion protesters.

“The best way to have zero emissions is to close the company, but then 18,000 people will lose their jobs. When we talk about the environment, we need to keep that in mind as well,”.

Of course, any step forward is positive. As consumers, we need to remain vigilant, to ensure these moves are more than just talk.

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