Q3 Sustainability Report
Raw material transit
Commercial garment wash
Customer garment care
Water (gallons) 84%
Waste (metric tons) 52%
We tried to make these standards as holistic as possible, taking into consideration water input, energy input, land use, eco-toxicity, greenhouse gas emissions, human toxicity, availability and price. We also looked at garment care implications, like microfiber shedding. Basically, every time you wash synthetic clothes they shed small plastic pieces called microfibers, which is leading to plastic pollution of our waterways. As a precaution, we grouped recycled synthetics by their application and machine wash frequency.
We have five categories:
Natural fibers that are rapidly renewable, plant-based and have a potential for circularity.
B–Better than most
B fibers are almost all natural or recycled fibers.
C–Could be better
Fibers in the C category are better alternatives than more commonly used fibers, but not as innovative.
D–Don’t use unless certified
D’s require certifications for raw material cultivation (i.e. organic), animal welfare, traceability or wet processing (i.e. Bluesign)
E fibers are too environmentally or socially intensive, and don’t meet our sustainability criteria. We’ll only source these fibers if they are <10% for specific fabric construction and performance.
We aim to make 75% of our products with A & B fibers by the end of 2018!
Better than most
Could be better
Don't use unless certified
Fair trade cotton
Generic viscose & rayon
Lenzing Viscose & LENZING™ ECOVERO™
Chemically recycled rayon
Conventional wool & cashmere
Enka or Birla viscose
Chemically recycled polyester
Angora & mohair
Our first shoe collection featured espadrilles made with jute, a renewable natural fiber. Jute actually has a positive carbon footprint because it takes up more carbon from the atmosphere than it releases. A jute plant sinks about 5.8 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere in its lifetime—that’s the same CO2 emissions as driving 14,000 miles in your car!
2018 goal: 75% of all fabric spend are ref's most sustainable fibers
We are currently in the process of switching to our updated fiber standards (mentioned above) so this number is based on our previous standards.
2018 goal: 75% of all fabric spend have clean chemical certifications
We have work to do on this one! We are meeting with our fabric mills, dyehouse and printers to pursue Bluesign, Oeko-tex, and similar certifications to ensure responsible use of chemicals, and that products are safe for you and the environment. Two of our main partners are likely using compliant dyestuffs, but don’t have the certifications and documentation all sorted yet. We also test all of our stuff against our Restricted Substance List to confirm there are no hazardous substances in our products. Additionally, we are exploring cost sharing with facilities to provide them with the support needed to obtain these certifications. Our biggest wins right now, continue to be silk, linen and our swim fabrics.
2018 goal: 75% of units are machine or hand washable
Up to two-thirds of clothes’ environmental impact happens once you take it home—which means you play an important role in the life cycle of our products. By hand washing or machine-washing your stuff in cold water, you can help prevent 500 lbs of CO2 from entering the atmosphere every year. Our goal is to make 75% of our products low impact garment care to make it easier for you to give back to the Earth.
2018 goal: 75,000 garments reused or recycled
Status: 26,558 garments
There are actually enough clothing and textiles in existence today to meet our global annual demand. Circularity eliminates the concept of waste and reuses + recycles materials back into the fashion system. We have been working on a handful of projects to incorporate circularity in all steps of the value chain. To help us reach our goal we’ve teamed up with thredUP to clean out your closet and earn Ref Credit! We think that this will push us closer to goal by inspiring and making it easy to recirculate your old clothes.
2018 goal: 75% of factory team earn LA’s living wage
We’re working to meet our goal of 75%+ of our team members at or above Los Angeles’ living wage threshold in 2018 (as defined by MIT), and push for 100% in 2019.¹ Right now 100% of all of our teams make more than CA State Minimum Wage. We increased the minimum wage for all Ref factory employees in July to help us drive closer to our goal. We also offer an incentive structure for our sewing teams. We provide health benefits to all full-time employees, and extra perks like massages and ESL classes.
2018 goal: 100% traceability of tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers
Tier 1 means our cut and sew vendors and any subcontractors. We have mapped out and are currently monitoring 100% of our Tier 1 suppliers for ethical working conditions. Our next step will be mapping our Tier 2 vendors, so our fabric mills, dye houses and printers.
Keep a look out for some updated packaging coming your way soon! This year we expanded our manufacturing to include overseas factory partners so we need to make sure our garments are protected in transit. In order to limit our waste and use of plastic, we sourced a bio-based bag from TIPA that is 100% compostable. So, our products will still be packaged in the same recycled paper kraft mailers but with an added layer of compostable coverage.