Stand.earth calls Lululemon resale program, inaction on fossil fuels ‘greenwashing’

Tuesday April 12, 2022

If company is serious about sustainability, it must take steps to phase out reliance on coal

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Popular Canadian athleisure brand Lululemon today announced plans to extend its trade in and resale program across in the U.S. The program, which launched in two pilot states in 2021, will be available nationwide beginning on Earth Day. 

The company said in a statement that the proceeds from the program would be invested in its Impact Agenda, which it describes as a multi-year strategy to create a sustainable future and minimize environmental impact. But Stand.earth and other advocates have raised concerns over the company’s continued foot-dragging on eliminating coal and fossil fuels from its supply chain. 

In response to the announcement, Muhannad Malas, Senior Climate Campaigner in the Fossil-Free Fashion Campaign at Stand.earth, issued the following statement. The Vancouver, BC-based climate advocacy group has been calling on Lululemon to clean up the climate pollution in its supply chain, which is largely caused by coal-powered factories in manufacturing countries like Vietnam and China.

"Expanding resale programs that aim to extend the life cycle of apparel may play a part in the solution to reduce textile waste, but ultimately, brands like Lululemon need to commit to and implement strategies that would eliminate fossil fuels from manufacturing and materials. 

In contrast to its purported commitment to sustainability, Lululemon continues to drag its feet on phasing out coal as a source of energy from its supply chain, which adds to its growing climate pollution and adverse health impacts on communities including in Southeast Asia and China where its products are made. 

The latest IPCC report made it abundantly clear that if we are to have a solid chance to prevent the worst outcomes of climate change, businesses like Lululemon can no longer delay action to transition to renewable energy across the supply chain. If the company is serious about sustainability, Lululemon must also take steps to phase out its reliance on fossil fuel synthetics like polyester, a material that not only perpetuates the world’s reliance on fossil fuels, environmental injustice and microplastic pollution, but also undermines efforts to achieve circularity due to the lack of viable and scaled solutions to recycle it. Anything less is simply greenwashing.”

BACKGROUND

For more than a year, Stand.earth has called on Lululemon — one of the biggest, most profitable, and fastest growing sportswear brands in the world — to do better on climate change. Last month, Stand.earth and local activists protested against Lululemon’s new line of running shoes, Blissfeel, over concerns about the company’s increasing contribution to climate change. (See photos.) In February 2022, Stand.earth criticized the company’s Team Canada Olympics gear for contributing to climate change and threatening the very future of winter sports (See photos). In November 2021, Stand.earth released an analysis revealing that despite Luluemon’s participation in fashion industry climate initiatives, and despite its commitment to reduce emissions in the coming decade, the company’s supply chain emissions actually increased in 2020.

Stand.earth’s Fossil Free Fashion Scorecard released in August 2021 benchmarked 47 top fashion companies on their efforts to tackle climate change. The report broadly failed the fashion industry on its efforts to address climate change, and gave Lululemon a D- for failing to take meaningful action to work with suppliers to increase renewable energy use in its supply chain, phase out coal usage, or advocate for or sourcing renewable energy for its factories. 

Learn more about Stand.earth's Fossil Free Fashion Campaign at lulucoal.com.

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Media contact: Muhannad Malas, Senior Climate Campaigner, , +1 604 757 7246 (Eastern Time)