Sustainability Report Q3
The Sustainability Report
The Sustainability Report
Big companies report their profits in quarterly earnings reports. We all should be accountable for more than that. That’s why sustainability is at the core of everything we do.
In our Q2 report earlier this year, we expanded our People portion to include our efforts and focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), and now in our Q3 report we want to update you again on the progress we’ve made.
Here’s a look at where we are in our four main areas:
DEI at Ref today
In the last three months we’ve done a lot of listening and learning, but also laid the groundwork for what we want to accomplish in the near future. We realize there’s still a lot of work to be done to ensure Ref is both a great place to work and a brand that reflects and respects the rich diversity of this world.
We’re committed to doing this work and dedicating the time, attention, and resources. We’re equally dedicated to tracking our progress and sharing it openly.
A living wage is defined as the minimum income necessary for a worker to attain a basic standard of living. Living wages provide the means for people to purchase goods and services like food, energy, education, housing, transportation, health care, and are key to ending cycles of poverty that have lasted for generations.
Our goal this year was to have all of our teams meet or exceed the living wage. As of July 2020 we accomplished that goal and are committed to keeping it that way.
→ Meet the team
We work with incredible partners that share our values of accountability, transparency, and sustainability and make a real impact in the industry. We know we’re not perfect, but we’ll always do our best to be transparent and keep pushing for better.
We require all our direct cut, sew & finish manufacturing partners to adhere to our Code of Conduct (basically our requirements for ethical operations) to ensure fair labor conditions and fundamental labor rights like prohibiting child labor, forced labor, protecting the health and safety, and meeting or exceeding legal minimum requirements in the locales where they work.
Our suppliers participate in independent, third-party social assessments to ensure fair, safe and healthy working conditions and continuous improvement.
In line with our commitment to collaborative supplier relationships and worker well-being in our supply chain, we are working closely with our suppliers to find the best way through the global COVID-19 pandemic.
We took full responsibility–and paid in full for all complete and in-progress finished goods orders. While we extended our payment terms temporarily for a limited amount of agents and in limited cases, we are back to our original terms with all garment manufacturing partners. Our current terms are consistent with industry practice, and we have not asked for any discounts on payments.
Traceability is about knowing exactly where our stuff comes from. We want to be able to answer “who made our clothes” at every level of the supply chain.
Our goal for 2020 was to reach 100% traceability into our Tier 1 & 2 suppliers—we’re excited to announce that we have exceeded our goal and are so close to having 100% traceability into our Tier 3 suppliers.
Supply chains are fragmented and complex so our next focus will be to dig into Tier 4 and go deeper at the fiber, forest, and farm level. For example, we will know exactly from which forest the wood pulp for our viscose is harvested and from which cotton farms our ginners and yarn spinners source. This is important so we can take accountability for responsible practices all the way through our supply chain.
Fiber selection also affects how you’re going to wash the garment and potentially recycle it one day—both important factors to consider when it comes to the environmental impact. That’s why we have our own Ref fiber standards. 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.¹
Good news: 95% of our fabrics meet A/B ratings²
We are a proud member of the CanopyStyle Initiative to help drive positive change for our forest products and ensure that all our forest-based products come from sustainably managed forests.
Our Better viscose in our B category is sourced from producers that are on the path to meeting (or in some cases have already met) requirements to only source from forests that are conserved, protected, and restored. We recently signed the Changing Markets roadmap to ensure that all the viscose fiber manufacturers in our supply chain move to a closed-loop manufacturing system by 2023-2025. This means the system should recycle the majority of chemicals used during production, lessening any potential negative impacts on human health and the environment. Check out our Sustainable Forest Commitment to learn more.
→ Learn more about Ref fiber standards
We’re passionate about working with our partner printers, dye houses and tanneries to ensure responsible use of chemicals, water and energy so that products are safe for workers, you and the environment.
Our goal for 2020 was to have 75% of our fabrics be certified clean by third party certifications like Oeko-Tex Standard 100 and Bluesign³. We were unable to meet the minimum yardage requirements to work with one of our primary certified dye houses in 2020. But we are really proud of one of our core partner facilities, who is almost done getting Bluesign certified. So we should be able to reach our goal in 2021, and won’t stop pushing for better.
¹ We published our methodology and sources so you can really dig in and understand what we include in our standards.
² Fiber performance is based on the majority fiber content in the fiber composition. Calculated for total fabric yardage used in Q3 2020.
³ Certifications included in this total are Oeko-Tex Standard 100, Bluesign, Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Global Recycled Standard (GRS). Calculated for total fabric yardage that was used in Q3 2020 excluding deadstock materials.
As a brand we believe that climate change is one of the biggest issues facing our planet. And we know that the first step to reducing our impact on the environment is understanding our footprint. That’s why in 2014 we launched RefScale.
Making clothes uses water, energy, chemicals, and other resources. RefScale helps us track our environmental footprint by adding the pounds of carbon dioxide emitted, gallons of water used, and pounds of waste generated. Then we calculate how much Reformation saves compared to conventional clothes bought in the US.
RefScale follows the lifecycle of clothes—everything from growing textile fibers and making fabric, dyeing, transporting materials, manufacturing, packaging, shipping, garment care, and even recycling clothes when you’re done with them.
→ Learn more about RefScale
At Reformation we believe knowledge is power, so we think about all the costs in creating fashion—not just the price tag. We share RefScale information on every product page of our website so you can see the total cost of fashion and make empowered choices.
From day one, we’ve committed to oversharing our RefScale methodology and assumptions publicly, but we also want to make sure it stays current and includes the best available data. So we decided to work with a third-party consulting group to review our methodology. We also updated several of our data sources to align with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI), an industry tool for life-cycle assessments, methodology, and procedures.
We also worked with another third-party consulting group, to verify that the tool worked the way it was designed to. That way we can continue to feel confident in our calculations and ensure that RefScale operates as a simplified life cycle assessment tool.
2020 YTD total footprint
So now what?
When we first launched RefScale there were little to no tools that measured the impact of fashion. Our mission for RefScale is to empower our team and our customers to make better choices when designing and buying clothes. We hope to use it to measure and further reduce our environmental footprint and push sustainability forward. As we grow, RefScale will continue to grow and evolve with us by aligning with industry tools to ensure it is on the leading edge of sustainability.
We know this can’t happen over night, so in the meantime we also do other things - like investing in programs that replace the resources we’ve spent. This is where offsets come in.
We’ve been 100% carbon-neutral since 2015, but now we’re working with Climate Neutral, a non-profit organization, to make it official. Through their rigorous certification program, Climate Neutral verifies a company like us has achieved net-zero carbon emissions. It’s basically like getting a fancy seal of approval. We’re not certified yet but we’re committed to being a 100% Carbon Neutral certified company in 2021.
Sky Wind Project
This project is a 96 MegaWatt wind project located in a rural area of Maharashtra, India. Along with providing clean energy, this project has taken on several community development initiatives like infrastructure development to help improve the lives of the people located in the project area.
China Cookstove Project
This project works to prove low-income rural households in China’s Sichuan province with reliable biogas digesters and efficient biogas stoves. These digesters help create clean and affordable biogas out of animal waste that can be used in cooking and heating instead of lighting coal and firewood.
Montana Sustainable Grazing
When cattle graze, they tend to stress the soil which makes it hard for plants to grow. This project is working to change the way cattle are managed to give the land the time it needs to rest and recover. This helps ensure healthy soil which acts as a huge carbon sink.
Honduras Clean Water
This project aims to bring clean drinking water to everyone. Certain regions of the world still don’t have access to clean drinking water and are forced to burn unsustainably harvested wood to purify water. This process is time consuming, creates indoor air pollution, and emits greenhouse gases. To help combat this problem, Native Energy installs their Hydraid water filters which helps local people live healthier lives and prevents deforestation.
There is actually enough clothing and textiles in existence today to meet our annual demand globally. We upped our goal to reuse or recycle 200,000 garments a year. We met our goal last quarter and it looks like we’re on track to double it by end of year.
So far in 2020, we’ve donated over 56,000 masks to homeless shelters, hospitals, and essential workers since COVID-19 accelerated to a pandemic in March.
We believe climate change is one of the biggest issues facing the planet. And there is an undeniable connection between climate change and wildfires, which impact people, wildlife, and the economy. So for every mask purchased on our site in October, we’re donating a mask to Center for Farmworker Families to help with the double burden of COVID-19 and the wildfires. We are also partnering with the Los Angeles Mission shelters to get masks to the homeless communities of LA, as they are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
→ Donate masks
¹ This includes RefVintage, Rent-the-Runway, and thredUP.
² CO2 equivalency comes from the EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator, water equivalency is based on the total volume of an olympic sized pool, and waste equivalency is based on the average amount of waste a garbage truck can hold.