Our sustainability research team created a life-cycle assessment tool to calculate the CO2 water, and waste footprints of Reformation products, as well as comparable products. We used primary data whenever available; otherwise we referenced secondary data and existing life-cycle assessments for select fabrics or processes. Finally, Clean Agency, a third-party sustainability consulting team, reviewed our methodology and data sources to verify the validity of our calculations.
The following boundary applies to our CO2 and water calculations:
For waste, there is very limited data on waste outputs in the fashion supply chain (fiber cultivation, fabric processing, dyeing, etc.). Instead, we focus on material wastes that we control directly through manufacturing and fulfillment processes:
- -Product manufacturing (including fabric scraps & operating waste)
How do we define comparable conventional clothing?
We select comparable conventional clothing characteristics based on what fabrics and processes are most common for products sold in the US.
Assumptions for comparable conventional clothing:
- -Same weight as Reformation garment
- -For knits & linen wovens, majority content conventional cotton
- -For viscose wovens, majority content conventional viscose
- -For deadstock wovens, majority content conventional viscose
- -For Recover sweater knits, majority content conventional wool
- -For Alpaca sweater knits, majority conventional cashmere
- -For deadstock or Bluesign silk, majority content conventional silk
- -Manufactured in China in a factory without carbon offsets
- -Raw material air transport from China to LA
- -Poly bag inside a corrugated box for packaging
- -Small-package, ground shipping without carbon offsets
What practices make Reformation different?
- -Lower-impact fabrics like vintage, deadstock, Tencel, flax linen, Alpaca yarn
- -Domestic suppliers whenever possible
- -Third-party certifications (Bluesign, Oeko-Tex) for low-impact and safe dye practices when available
- -Manufacturing in our own factory or a nearby factory in LA
- -Purchase of renewable energy credits for factory operations (100% wind)
- -Lower-impact, 100% recycled-content & recyclable packaging
- -Carbon neutral shipping program
- -Low-impact garment care labels and recommendations
- -End-of-life recycling service
- -We researched resource use of data centers and customers' computer usage, and found that the e-commerce impacts were negligible (per product). Therefore, retailing is not included in the boundary of analysis. However, the footprint of Reformation’s online shopping platform ie. CO2 eq. emissions of servers and customer screen power consumption is calculated and offset separately.
- -Trims such as zippers, buttons, and fasteners were also found negligible and not included in the boundary of analysis.
- -For most blended fabric, we calculate emissions from the majority fiber unless the blended fibers are significantly different from one another in terms of environmental footprint i.e. for our a) alpaca and silk, b) viscose and silk c) silk and cashmere blends. For these blends, we calculate the footprint of garment weight by fabric composition. Example, for a fabric that is 70% viscose and 30% silk, we calculate the fabric impacts assuming 70% of impact is attributed from viscose and 30% is from silk.
- -For lining fabrics, emissions are calculated separately and added to the total emissions of the garment.
- -For deadstock and vintage fabrics, we do not assign a fabric impact since these come from secondary markets. We do calculate the rest of life cycle impacts including transit of the fabric and garment washing
- -There is very little data available for wool yarns. We have valid data for conventional wool, but not for Alpaca, Cashmere, and other specialty yarns. Thus, we based our calculations on an animal to garment yield. On average, one alpaca yields 4 garments, one sheep yields 3 garments and one cashmere goat yields a quarter of a garment. We assume that these animals take the same resources to raise. NRDC says that alpacas actually consume less and Cashmere consumes more, but for the sake of being conservative (potentially understating impact of Alpaca) we assume similar footprints. We scale the numbers in proportion to our current research on wool to derive cashmere and alpaca footprints.
- -Dyeing calculations assume reactive dyeing processes.
- -Most Ref garments are not washed before hand, but if they are we calculate that they are washed in a commercial-top load machine at 13.5 lbs of clothing per load.
- -Packaging impact includes manufacturing as well as the end-of-life impact for all materials used.
- -For garment care, we assume the average life of a garment is 52 washes.
- -We assume Reformation customers follow recommended lower-impact garment care label instructions instead of traditional professional cleaning.
- -Machine wash calculations are based on using cold water, and higher-efficiency front-loading machines.
- -For end-of-life, we assume Reformation customers recycle at a slightly higher rate than US average (30% vs.15%). This can be attributed in part to our free clothing recycling service, and our customers increased awareness of clothing waste.
- -For waste, we assume 15% of fabric yield goes to scrap. For Reformation, this fabric is recycled. For conventional, this fabric is included in waste output.
- -For waste, we assume that trash containers are 100% full at point of pick-up. We use average volume to weight conversions (via Recyclemania). We normalize this weight by the number of units produced. For conventional waste calculations, we received waste hauling data from three clothing manufacturers, and averaged these to get an estimate for a point of comparison.
There are some slight variations in system boundary and geographic focus for secondary sources. We’ve done our best to compare “apples-to-apples” but in some cases, this is very difficult with existing data. We do our best to focus on cradle-to-gate, and will select the most thorough and conservative estimates when competing studies and data are available. We are currently unable to identify LCA reporting on Recycled Cashmere yarn, and are looking for better data for Alpaca, Cashmere, and Silk. If you can help, please let us know!