Earth Day Prompts New Sustainability Commitments from Apparel Brands

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wood-based or cellulose fiber

With Earth Day around the corner, these companies are taking the opportunity to highlight their new environmental initiatives. From reducing greenhouse gas emissions to introducing eco-friendly fibers, here’s what some businesses are doing to make the apparel industry more sustainable.


Walmart is calling on all suppliers to minimize their greenhouse gas emissions. On Wednesday, the retailer launched a new sustainability platform that it announced in November, which invites suppliers to join Walmart in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by one gigaton. Known as Project Gigaton, this initiative will provide suppliers with an emissions reduction toolkit and help them improve materials, manufacturing and use of products by 2030.

With Project Gigaton, Walmart aims to minimize its absolute Scope 1 (emissions from Walmart’s sources) and Scope 2 (emissions from energy purchased by Walmart) emissions by 18 percent over the next eight years and reduce emissions from upstream and downstream Scope 3 (emissions not controlled by Walmart) sources by one billion tons (equivalent to a gigaton) from 2015 to 2030. The project is part of Walmart’s ongoing sustainability initiatives that focus on addressing environmental issues, supporting communities and strengthening business.

Suppliers participating in the project will also work to improve their Scope 3 climate efforts. Walmart has also onboarded NGOs, including Environmental Defense Fund and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), to establish an emissions reduction toolkit for suppliers interested in the project.

“Project Gigaton is a testament to the transformative impact that leaders of industry can have on our greatest common challenges,” WWF president and CEO Carter Roberts said. “As more companies follow in the footsteps of Walmart and their suppliers, we can achieve the critical mass needed to address climate change.”

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Lenzing is celebrating World Earth Day with a new environmental commitment. Today, the global cellulose fiber provider introduced a new sustainability strategy, “Naturally Positive.”

Naturally Positive is a result of Lenzing Group’s strategy sCore TEN implemented in Fall 2015. Echoing sCore TEN’s goal of increasing the use of eco-friendly fibers, the new strategy will foster a more circular business model with three core areas—people, planet and profit.

The strategy includes sourcing wood sustainably, converting raw material wood into valuable biodegradable industrial raw materials and commercializing the cellulose-based fibers in the apparel market. This circular model will also boost climate protection and support sustainable innovations designed to replace harmful products.

Along with the new strategy debut, Lenzing is supporting World Earth Day’s Canopy Project with a donation of $27,000. Earth Day Network’s reforestation campaign, The Canopy Project, supports tree planting in communities worldwide. By planting more trees, the public can support agroforestry and minimize the impact of pollution and carbon emissions on Earth.

“We’re very grateful for Lenzing Group’s generous donation”, Earth Day Network president Kathleen Rogers said. “With the help of partners such as Lenzing, we’re not just planting trees, we’re also helping build sustainable communities in areas of the world most in need of reforestation.”

Gap Inc.

Athleta and Gap have pledged to use more sustainable fibers in apparel production over the next five years.

On Thursday, Gap, one of Gap Inc.’s iconic brands, launched the commitment, which involves obtaining all cotton from eco-friendlier sources by 2021. Athleta also disclosed a series of sustainability goals, including the pledge to use greener fibers. The activewear retailer aims to have 80 percent of its apparel materials made with sustainable fibers by 2020.

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As part of its new cotton goal, Gap will remain partners with Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), an organization that works with farms to harvest ethical and sustainable cotton. Gap sourced 3.8 million pounds of Better Cotton for its Spring 2017 products. Gap’s cotton goal will fuel the brand’s sustainable fashion platform, Gap for Good and help reduce worldwide energy consumption.

Over the past two years, Athleta has also worked to use more sustainable materials. These materials, including repurposed recycled synthetics and organic cotton, are converted into the high-performance fabrics in Athleta’s activewear garments. To meet its 2020 goal, the brand will partner with fiber manufacturers on innovative solutions and use more efficient finishing techniques to conserve water.

“For Athleta and our community, the Earth is our playground, and we believe it’s vitally important to protect it for the next generation,” Athleta CEO and president Nancy Green said. “With the use of more recycled and sustainable fibers, we’re working to lessen our impact on the environment and preserve the Earth’s precious natural resources.”

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