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| 2 minutes read

A shoe without a (carbon) footprint - toe good to be true?

B Corp footwear brand, Allbirds, has reported a net revenue of $70.5m in Q2 2023, up 3.8% from two years previously. Days after the Q2 cut-off, the brand unveiled what it claims to be the world's first net zero carbon shoe. The M0.0NSHOT is a sock trainer predominantly made from wool which is sourced from the Lake Hawea Station sheep farm in New Zealand. As well as being at the forefront of sustainable progress in the fashion sphere, the M0.0NSHOT could help to increase Allbirds' revenue even further.

A chart publicly shared by Allbirds shows that, technically, 2kg of carbon emissions is produced during the life-cycle of the trainer, but the carbon sequestration processes which take place at Lake Hawea Station help to counter those emissions, hence the zero claim.

In calculating the carbon emissions of each of its products, Allbirds developed a life-cycle assessment tool which, crucially, complies with ISO 14067, an international standard defining the requirements necessary for companies to qualify the carbon footprint of their products. However, the tool was modified for the M0.0NSHOT to include the actual emissions reductions related to the regenerative activities at Lake Hawea Station as opposed to the industry average for all wool. This does not align with the international standard and so the carbon footprint of the trainer cannot be verified by a third party.

However, Allbirds' breakdown of carbon emissions relative to the specific materials used in each product is the type of exercise which will be required by companies in compliance with the Digital Product Passport (DPP) initiative designed under the EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles and Ecodesign which is part of the European Commission's Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation. Garments will exhibit a small QR code which individuals can scan to learn about all parties involved in the product's lifecyle and the emissions generated during production. As well as increasing transparency, DPPs should help to defeat greenwashing by companies as it will be more easy to verify sustainable claims. Specific DPP regulation is set to come into effect by 2026/7, but some brands, including Pangaia and Reformation, have already implemented similar tools.

Alongside the launch of the M0.0NSHOT, Allbirds released its RECIPE B0.0K which sets out how it calculated the carbon emissions of the M0.0NSHOT and encourages other brands to use its methodology. Whilst the new methodology may not comply with the current international standard, Allbirds is helping to drive higher standards for supply chain transparency which in turn will support one of the main objectives of DPP regulation: helping consumers in making sustainable choices. The M0.0NSHOT therefore seems to be a step in the right direction.

"We could spend decades debating the finer points of carbon sequestration, or we can innovate today with a common sense approach. It’s about progress, not perfection. The scientists have shown us what’s possible – now it’s time for the fashion industry to carry the open-sourced learnings from M0.0NSHOT forward." - Hana Kajimura, Head of Sustainability at Allbirds


fashion and luxury, sustainability and esg, retail