Mara Hoffman announced it achieved Climate Neutral certification last week as part of the label’s ongoing efforts to reduce its environmental impact and make sustainability synonymous with style.
“We’ve explored the impact that legislation can have on making the fashion industry a less harmful force on the planet, and a more compassionate place for workers,” Reed Nelson wrote on the Mara Hoffman website announcing the label’s Climate Neutral certification.
But, Nelson writes, “we can’t wait on legislative solutions alone. So while we still believe legislation is the best way to create the kind of accountability structure that can spark industry-wide change (it is), we also are one of a growing group of brands seeking out these structures on their own, making promises to do the work ourselves, finding ways to keep those promises and trying to do better every day.”
The label joins approximately 300 brands including Los Angeles-based sustainable fashion label Reformation and Miranda Kerr’s beauty brand Kora Organics, among others achieving the certification status.
Climate Neutral certification
To qualify for the Climate Neutral standards, brands must measure and offset their carbon footprints and meet criteria based on The Greenhouse Gas Protocol— the world’s most widely used greenhouse gas accounting standards.
“The biggest obstacle is time,” Dana Davis, vice president of sustainability at Mara Hoffman, told WWD. “The certification process kicked off at the beginning of the year and was wrapped by mid-April so it’s a fast process. And when you’re a small team—and yet you need a dedicated lead on the project—it’s even more arduous. On top of time and bandwidth, you need your factories to send you data, which takes follow-up. Thankfully, we have a robust system in place for style data, which makes inputting information into the measuring tools supplied by Climate Neutral pretty easy.”
To earn the mark, the label had to calculate its emissions across its supply chain and purchase eligible carbon credits to offset its footprint, which, compared to numbers by large labels, is a drop in the bucket of our global emissions problem—Mara Hoffman’s emissions were just over 4,000 tons in 2021 compared to the millions produced by larger labels.
The label also has to commit to design plans to reduce emissions moving forward, part of the obligate Climate “Neutral Reduction Action Plan” that requires brands to outline reduction efforts for the next 12 to 24 months. Mara Hoffman says it’s working to reduce its emission in air freight and fiber sourcing. It purchased two verified carbon credits: the renewable energyGuyuan Wuhuaping 49.5 MW Wind Power Project in North China and the Agrocortex Redd Project, which uses privately owned land to deter deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest.
“For those wondering why Now is the right time to go Climate Neutral, know this: the right time was yesterday,” Nelson wrote. “Or maybe a decade ago. Or maybe even longer, but that’s not the point. (It is, but it can’t be.) The point is that we all must do our best now if we have any chance of hitting the planet-saving goals of 2050.”
Nelson says that globally, we’re already emitting almost 60 billion tons of greenhouse gasses every year, “emissions that cause climate change and do damage to the planet that could become irreparable without intervention.”
The fashion industry is particularly to blame for the climate change crisis—producing between two to ten percent of emissions and producing 20 percent of wastewater globally. “But if we can all reach those emissions-cutting targets, we can avoid many of the devastating effects climate change will bring.”
Also like a growing number of labels, Mara Hoffman sees the interconnectivity between the sustainability of the fashion industry and the social justice issues plaguing it. Hoffman showed her support for the recent FABRIC Act introduced to the Senate earlier this month by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). The legislation aims to bring accountability and fair wages to the industry with the goal of rejuvenating the once-thriving U.S. garment industry. While pockets are still thriving in Los Angeles and New York, the majority of U.S. labels produce offshore, typically in China.
Noting its support via a blog post on its website, Mara Hoffman said the Gillibrand legislation needs to address “both sides of the problem” in order to adequately affect change.
“We can’t allow for these bills to get drafted and then forgotten about, and furthermore, we have to ensure that reparations and equitable benefits are not merely a priority when drafting them, but central to their text and implementation. And if we’re talking about reparations, it is essential that future legislation is focused on the environmental impact that the fashion industry contributes to which disproportionately affects BIPOC communities and lower socioeconomic communities,” the label said on its website.
“Since 2015, we’ve made it our priority to reduce the harm we cause on the planet,” Hoffman said. “We believe that we can make beautiful, long-lasting clothes in ways that use less water, create less waste, don’t deplete natural resources, and decrease chemical use, all while advocating for the well-being of the individuals within our supply chain. Many companies are doing this work and have been doing this work, but we need many more companies to commit in order to affect change.”