The fashion industry contributes to 10 percent of the global carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of the world's water supply. However, the collective uproar against unsustainability has compelled the fashion industry to retrace its steps in recent times. One way by which various fashion houses are trying to compensate for their carbon emissions is by making an equivalent carbon dioxide saving elsewhere - a process known as carbon offsetting. Although it may seem like a tokenist approach at first glance, carbon offsetting has a massive potential to alter the recklessness of the global fashion industry and make it more eco-friendly.
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF CARBON OFFSETTING
In a layperson's language, we can understand carbon offsetting as a technique of compensating for carbon emissions by making an equivalent carbon-saving elsewhere. It is a give and take mechanism and involves investments in one or more environmental projects or conservation schemes to even out the greenhouse gas emissions that fashion brands produce in their operations and supply chains.
Fashion brands like using carbon offsets to achieve carbon neutrality. It is a measurable matrix to show customers and stakeholders that they are doing their best to invest in sustainability. In 2019, designer Gabriela Hearst hosted a carbon-neutral fashion show. Gabriela Hearst donated to the Hifadi-Livelihoods Project in Kenya, which preserves its forests and safeguards the health of rural communities. Soon, Gucci followed with a pledge to achieve 100 percent carbon-neutrality in its supply chain and operations. Both Gucci and another luxury fashion Mogul – Burberry – have invested in the projects endorsed by REDD+. Likewise, in India, Upcycleluxe has emerged as the country's first carbon-neutral marketplace.
EFFICIENCY OF CARBON OFFSETTING
Carbon offsetting either is a preemptive move to prevent greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere or is a curative strategy to balance the emissions already produced. When it comes to the crux of the strategy, carbon offsetting can be helpful. A recent study by Science Magzine reveals that planting billions of trees across the planet is one of the only feasible solutions to save the earth from impending doom. The study also finds that stringent and well-intentioned carbon offsetting can remove up to two-thirds of all the emissions produced to date. However, when we specifically talk about carbon offsetting in the fashion industry, it is imperative that brands equally focus on reducing their carbon footprint. Likewise, the term 'carbon-neutral fashion' also is controversial as it creates an impression among customers that they can consume excessively as the products are sustainable par excellence. Therefore, the hour's need is to mitigate the 'maximalist' mindset and prevent overconsumption by being honest to customers and creating awareness about the harrows of micro-trends and fast fashion.
INDIVIDUAL STEPS TO REDUCE CARBON EMISSIONS
Individual actions can make a massive impact, mainly when reducing the carbon footprint derived from one's fashion choices. Of course, the simplest way to reduce your carbon emission is by buying fewer clothes. The inundation of micro-trends on social media platforms has made it hard not to hop on the bandwagon. However, making sound and thoughtful purchasing and buying timeless pieces is the best way to lessen your carbon footprint. Likewise, other doable steps like buying second-hand, choosing organic fashion from sites like www.upcycleluxe.com, or opting for local designers can also help make the world a better place.