What’s at play here are some of the things we love.
In our case it’s the forest. It’s being able to ski and skate in the winter. It’s the seasons and nature as we know them, for our children and grandchildren. At Icebug, we never set out to be environmental activists, but seeing this all threatened got us moving.
What are the things that you love and want to protect?
First: The solution has to be systemic. Not just you and me trying to carry the burden while the big oil companies continue with business as usual. We all need to do what we can and be good stewards of the planet by reducing our consumption. This has an immediate effect on lowering emissions, and once your basic needs are met, actually often rather improves the quality of life. But to have a real chance to get on the path to limiting the temperature increase to 1,5 degrees, we need to focus our efforts on system change: Prioritizing phasing out fossil as an energy source, starting with coal.
Make your voice heard to let it be known that you want proper climate action taken. To change the structure, we also need to change the culture. That’s where we come in as individuals – trying to wield more influence, as friends, as citizens, as customers. The tools are there to start a massive transformation of which energy source we use, it’s technically and financially possible. But the power of “business as usual” is strong, that’s what changemakers are up against. As a citizen, you can reach out directly to the people in power or the party that you belong to. Or there are many movements that you can join. Protect Our Winters (that Icebug supports as part of our 1% For the Planet engagement) is one of them.
We’re not expert lobbyists, but where we do have some insider’s insights is in how a company works. From the outside, companies can appear like monoliths. But they’re made up by people, people with privately held beliefs. And they are in constant change, which means that there are competing plans and priorities. Those with most power carry the most responsibility. For accountability, this is the order of power to decide on all matters of importance, including climate commitment: Owners, board members, CEO/president, top management. But even if you can’t reach any of them directly, companies are very keen to listen to their customers. So, if you as a customer ask for something, it will send signals through the company that can tip the scales in a board of directors meeting in favor of a decision. You don’t need to be any kind of expert to do this, questions are powerful! Generally, you can ask how the company works with sustainability, but if you want to get more specific about climate action, you can ask:
• What is the CO2 footprint of the products?
• Has the company made a climate commitment to align with the science-based targets of the Paris agreement (to reduce emissions to keep temperature increase at well below 2 degrees or preferred at 1,5 degrees)?
• What specific actions has the company taken to reduce CO2 footprint/greenhouse gas emissions?
• What’s the energy source in the supply chain?
• What are the planned actions to halve CO2 emissions by 2030?
• How does the company take responsibility for emissions still caused (for example by compensating/offsetting)?
To get a little deeper into evaluating the quality of the replies, we can also share what we know about know where the bulk of the CO2 emissions are caused. First, be vary of any CO2/greenhouse gas emissions reporting that doesn’t account for ALL emissions and treat them similarly, but instead separate those that are caused directly in the own operations (Scope 1 and 2) or caused in the value chain (Scope 3). For a company like Icebug, that is Swedish based in most of its own operations, but ha production mainly in Vietnam, over 85% of the emissions are caused in Scope 3, before the product leaves the factory. (This is a rule of thumb that can be used for other footwear and apparel brands as well.)
''One thing many customers do ask us about is the impact of transport from the production in Vietnam. Since we use sea freight, that is in fact very small as a percentage of the total. Less than 5%, and if produced in southern Europe and shipped by truck, it would be more''
However, if air freight is frequently used to decrease lead time, either as part of the business model to or when there are delays (right now after a 3 months Covid lock down in Vietnam, it will be a huge temptation for brands to air freight products to catch the fall/winter season), this radically changes to situation and can almost double the emissions caused.
Our own operations have been 100% renewable energy for a long time. In Sweden, with our energy mix, that’s not a particularly impressive achievement. There’s a lot of hidden fossil energy in the supply chain for most footwear and apparel brands, not only the electricity of the grid, but also coal fired boilers used for heat in the preparation and dyeing of textiles. There are other methods to use, but these are the standards. There would be a huge win in phasing out this, and the more customers ask about it, the faster it will be.
/David Ekelund, Co-founder and CEO, Icebug.