News 20.09.2022

Need To Know

Sustainability takes centre stage in today’s Need to Know, with Patagonia’s post-purpose giveaway, and high prices making living sustainably unaffordable.

Fluff Stuff creates regenerative textiles from plant fibres

Fluff Stuff is a textile filling designed by Lukas Schuck and Tea Auramo from Aalto University
Fluff Stuff is a textile filling designed by Lukas Schuck and Tea Auramo from Aalto University
Fluff Stuff is a textile filling designed by Lukas Schuck and Tea Auramo from Aalto University

Europe – Consciously-farmed, plant-based textile innovations could become viable alternatives for the fashion industry, helping to reduce carbon footprint – and regenerate environments. Finland-based Fluff Stuff, headed by Aalto University students, engineer Lukas Schuck and designer Tea Auramo, offers a range of prototype clothing and homewares filled with regenerated wetland plant fibres.

Replacing carbon-intensive down fillings and recycled PET-plastic fillers (such as Thermore Ecodown), Fluff Stuff products are made with typha latifolia, commonly known as broadleaf cattail and found in Finnish peat wetlands. The seed head fibres are naturally wax coated and hyper-hydrophobic, absorbing 66% less water than down, according to the creators. Harvested via customised suction devices, the filling has been used for prototype jackets, duvets, pillows and bags, and is set to become a commercial range.

With drained peatlands accounting for 50–60% of agricultural emissions in Finland, according to the Fluff Stuff creators, the project aims to restore rewetted peatlands and rethink agricultural farm-to-fashion approaches while also creating a sustainable material.

Strategic opportunity

Think about the importance of product provenance for consumers. How can you offer them a more tangible connection to nature without compromising on material performance?

Will Patagonia’s stock giveaway herald a post-purpose era?

Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, US Yvon Chouinard, founder of Patagonia, US
Yvon Chouinard presenting Patagonia's Next Chapter: Earth  Is Now Our Only Shareholder Yvon Chouinard presenting Patagonia's Next Chapter: Earth Is Now Our Only Shareholder

US – It has been hard to escape the headlines about the US-based outdoor fashion brand Patagonia’s announcement on 14 September that its billionaire owner Yvon Chouinard and his family would be giving 100% of their controlling shares, worth an estimated £2.6bn ($3bn, €3bn), over to a trust and non-profit organisation dedicated to fighting the climate crisis.

The activist fashion company has long pushed an anti-consumerism agenda and is famed for its Don’t Buy This Jacket advertisement in The New York Times on Black Friday 2011. The stock giveaway, which saw Chouinard hand over 2% voting stock to the Patagonia Purpose Trust and the remaining 98% to non-profit organisation The Holdfast Collective, dedicated to climate causes, has been lauded. The resulting corporate tax structure means the collective can spend directly on political advocacy and lobby to influence policy.

But there have also been a few detractors highlighting the company’s increasing carbon footprint (its direct carbon emissions have grown on balance since 2018, according to The Independent) and its silence on the 2021 Garment Worker Protection Act in California, establishing fair wages and improved conditions for clothing makers in Patagonia’s home state.

At The Future Laboratory, we have highlighted how the brands that will thrive in this decade will embrace imperfection and focus on betterment; Patagonia has become the post-purpose era pin-up.

Strategic opportunity

How can your band take a more realistic, honest and iterative approach to development, moving away from purpose-washing?

Lawyers warn companies and the government against greenwashing

UK – More than 170 legal professionals, including multiple King’s Counsels, have written an open letter warning companies and the government against greenwashing. The letter warns that breaching the 1.5°C Paris threshold threatens mass loss of life and the rule of law, and that companies which provide misleading information about their contribution to the climate crisis could face prosecution.

Backed by non-profit organisation the Good Law Project, it also outlines how the government’s failure to align policies to meet the 1.5°C threshold could give climate protestors a good legal defence against any criminal charges brought. The letter calls on City of London law firms to do more – highlighting the role of the legal profession in profiting from the carbon economy and continuing to drive emissions.

While the term ‘sustainability’ is frequently co-opted as a buzzword and not backed up by action, the letter reminds companies that failing to act on their environmental promises could lead to serious legal consequences in the future. Look to our Sustainability Futures report for opportunities and actions your company can take to mitigate its impact.

The New York Times Climate Hub

Strategic opportunity

Ensure that environmental promises are followed through and are truly geared towards maintaining ecological balance, not just paying lip service

Stat: High prices stand in the way of a sustainable lifestyle

The majority of consumers want to live in a more sustainable way, but the high cost of living is stopping them from doing so, according to a new report by Kantar. Over three-quarters (77%) believe that sustainable products are more expensive, meaning that only better off consumers can access them.

Covering 33,000 consumers in 32 countries, the global study was conducted against the UN’s sustainability goals, revealing huge opportunities for brands to improve offerings and make sustainable products more accessible.

As well as cost, education should remain a priority for brands, with 57% of consumers finding it difficult to tell whether products are good or bad for the environment. The research also reveals that consumers expect brands across sectors to take the lead when it comes to sustainability, with waste elimination coming in as a high priority issue that they expect companies to address – including over-packaging, landfill and non-recyclable packaging.

With consumers still believing that sustainability has become a luxury privilege, the study demonstrates that brands have much work to do to improve access to eco-friendly goods.

Strategic opportunity

Create more affordable sustainable options, and ensure messaging speaks clearly to consumers about environmental benefits where those products already exist

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