The Circular Detective DETECTED : Offsetting = Upsetting

DETECTED : Offsetting = Upsetting

If we are serious as a society about achieving net-zero, the fashion industry in particular needs to get serious first. Serious about Science. Here's why and how.

HAVE YOU SEEN Don’t Look Up. It’s a dark comedy on climate change but with a fast-approaching comet that politicians are not taking serious enough. Let this movie be a wake-up call. Thank you. 

Now speaking of #ClimateChange we need to address the elephant in the virtual room: offsetting of CO2-emissions by fashion brands. 

Is it really helping?

No, not enough. In fact, it’s like mopping the ocean. The timeline for offsetting is not on par with the timeline of creating the CO2-emissions throughout a product’s supply chain all the way from the sourcing of the fibers to the customer buying the product.

Here is what Scientists have to say about offsetting CO2-emissions to “be more green” or, my all-time favorite *sarcasm* : “be more sustainable”.

Darling, how can you be “more sustainable” when you weren’t “sustainable” to begin with?

Nature.com : The inconvenient truth of carbon offsets

Offsetting is worse than doing nothing. It is without scientific legitimacy, is dangerously misleading and almost certainly contributes to a net increase in the absolute rate of global emissions growth.

Climate Change News : 10 myths about net zero targets and carbon offsetting, busted

The bottomline is to understand the Carbon Cycle

The Carbon Cycle 

The carbon cycle has two parts: one fast cycle whereby carbon circulates between the atmosphere, land and seas, and one slow cycle whereby carbon circulates between the atmosphere and the rocks which make up Earth’s interior.

Fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) come from rocks (part of the slow cycle). Carbon emissions from fossil fuel burning are today 80 times larger than the natural flow of carbon from Earth’s interior (via volcanoes). Since the return of carbon to Earth’s interior takes millions of years, about half of the emitted carbon remains in the atmosphere for a long time and contributes to global warming.

What to do instead?

Listen up fashion brands, here’s my free advice : 

Start with the materials. Garbage in = Garbage out.

Do not take advantage of Africa for cheaper offsetting. It’s selfish and exploitative. 

Hire a bonafide circular fashion consultant and take their plan serious.

That’s all for now.

Marije de Roos
Founder at Positive Fibers

Marije de Roos is an independent circular fashion researcher, whose work at the intersection of science, design, and technology is directed towards creating a new paradigm for fashion. With a background as an economist, Marije specialises in interrogating the true state of sustainability, challenging brands to move beyond baseless sustainability statements, and empowering consumers to make better-informed choices. She is also a contributor to The Interline.

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