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Home > Journal > The perfect T-Shirt: Sustainable and climate-neutral.

The perfect T-Shirt:
Sustainable and climate-neutral.

the perfect t-shirt- sustainably produced sanvt
the perfect t-shirt- sustainably produced sanvt

THE CLIMATE-CHANGE CHALLENGE

Global warming, as a consequence of man-made climate change, is the most important issue our planet is facing. Humans have been impacting the earth’s climate by burning fossil fuels, cutting down rainforests or farming livestock. These activities have added enormous amounts of greenhouse gases – accelerating the greenhouse effect and global warming. CO2 is the most commonly produced greenhouse gas and responsible for 64% of global warming. Its concentration in the atmosphere is currently 40% higher than a hundred years ago.

With this in mind, we believe that a T-Shirt cannot be called ‘perfect’ if it doesn’t take this challenge on. So, at SANVT, we wanted to understand our impact on the environment – with the aim of minimising our CO2 emissions. And once we started to look into this, we decided to go one step further to compensate unavoidable CO2 emissions, making The Perfect T-Shirt 100% climate-neutral.

To become more environmentally friendly and climate-neutral we followed three steps:

  1. Evaluating our carbon footprint
  2. Minimising our carbon footprint
  3. Becoming carbon neutral – by offsetting unavoidable emissions

 

STEP 1: EVALUATING OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

The first step was to understand the CO2 footprint of our Perfect T-Shirt. To do this, we partnered with Munich-based experts ClimatePartner: a specialised agency that enables organisations to understand their emissions and protect the climate.

Approach: 

ClimatePartner carried out a calculation of the CO2 emissions of the production of The Perfect T-shirt based on the GHG Protocol. The ‘cradle-to-storage’ approach was used for the calculation. This means that all materials and the entire manufacturing process (including packaging) were considered. In other words, we examined the process right from when we grow the original raw cotton until the final T-Shirt arrives at the warehouse in Germany.

The CO2 footprint of The Perfect T-Shirt

ClimatePartner estimates that the production of each SANVT T-Shirt generates approximately 5kg CO2. This figure includes a 20% security mark-up and is based on our small production runs of 1,500 T-Shirts in our family-run factory in Portugal.

The manufacturing process and the production of the raw materials of our T-Shirts are responsible for the lion’s share of our CO2 emissions (61.5% and 23.9% respectively). On the other hand, since all significant manufacturing facilities are based in Portugal (e.g. knitting, dying, cutting, sewing), the study found that the environmental impact of logistics and shipping is comparably low (3.8% and 1.5%).

Break-down of CO2 contributors during the T-Shirt production.

5kg CO2 – in perspective:

  • The average German produces roughly 9 tonnes of CO2 per year
  • The average personal car generates 5kg CO2 after a distance of 15km
  • One beech tree can capture the amount of CO2 emissions caused by the production of three T-Shirts (15kg of CO2)

 

STEP 2: MINIMISING OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

Environmental groups generally agree that avoidable emissions should be reduced first. Only then should emissions be offset that can’t be dealt with. By producing exclusively within Europe we have already managed to lower CO2 emissions significantly. Previous studies have shown that the environmental impact of a conventionally sourced T-Shirt is approximately 50% higher compared to The Perfect T-Shirt from SANVT.

Nevertheless, in order to further improve our CO2 footprint we will continue to work closely with our sourcing partners. And we have just launched an initiative to use renewable energy for the entire cutting and sewing process by 2020.

 

STEP 3: BECOMING CARBON NEUTRAL

We wanted to go further than just minimising our emissions. Now, at SANVT, we will offset the environmental impact caused by our production. This means the Perfect T-Shirt is now climate-neutral.

How does carbon offsetting work?

Carbon offsetting allows individuals or companies to invest in environmental projects to balance out their own carbon footprints. The projects are often based in developing countries and are designed to reduce future emissions or to soak up CO2 from the air (e.g. through the planting of trees).

Our project: Protecting the Bavarian forest

In our case, we decided to support a local project. Forests fulfil many climate-protecting functions, which is why we are starting our battle against climate change in the Oberallgäu forests in Bavaria. Our project, the Bergwaldprojekt e.V., protects the Bavarian forest with the help of volunteers and experts.

At the Bergwaldprojekt e.V., about 2,000 people a year work in 51 locations in Germany. They plant native species such as silver fir and sycamore maple to create a stable, mixed mountain forest. The initiative also protects water supplies by acting as a natural filter to clean rainwater. With our financial support towards the Bergwaldprojekt we contribute to the success of this project. More information about the project can be found here.

Transparency for each T-Shirt bought and worn

In partnership with ClimatePartner, we wanted to ensure highest levels of transparency. Therefore, you are able to trace the climate neutrality of your SANVT T-Shirt and its carbon offset. This can be achieved with clear product labelling that features an ID number and an associated URL for tracking.

You can use this to trace each individual case of carbon offsetting right down to the last kilogram of CO2. You can check the emissions volume yielded by the product, the project used to offset those emissions, and who guarantees the offset. This transparent approach, was developed by ClimatePartner and is certified by the technical inspection authority TÜV Austria.

BEYOND CLIMATE NEUTRALITY

Climate neutral means that we have calculated the carbon emissions generated during production and offset them via a certified carbon-offset project.

By selecting a climate-neutral product, you’re actively supporting a climate protection project!

But while off-setting carbon emissions is an important first step, it’s not perfect. We’ll continue to work to reduce our CO2 footprint, as well as offset it. Together with our partners, we will further improve our climate protection strategy to reduce and avoid carbon emissions.

This is a long-term challenge. But it’s a challenge SANVT is committed to.

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