The fashion industry is responsible for eight to 10% of global emissions, more than aviation and shipping combined, according to the United Nations.
Fast fashion is a threat not just because it leads to tonnes of textile waste and promotes the bad habit of overconsumption but also because it uses synthetic materials, like polyester, made using an estimated 342 million barrels of oil every year. Add shipping to this, and suddenly the cute top you bought just for fun is not so cute anymore.
Being sustainable, especially in fashion, is not just a marketing term but the need of the hour. And many labels today are taking the steps to help their customers make a more informed purchase.
“As a sustainable and ethical fashion brand, we have a zero waste fashion ethos. To further sustain our ethics and push the sustainability agenda, we were looking for carbon offset solutions. We came across a few options but most of them were opaque and vague,” says Tanvi Bikhchandani, co-founder of the label Tamarind Chutney. That’s when Bikhchandani came across Climes, a business-to-consumer start-up, which offered her transparency and authenticity that aligned with her label.
Climes gives you the option to carbon neutralise your purchase by paying a small sum (for example, ₹4 for an average of 4kg carbon emission) to UN SDG-compliant projects related to waste management, reforestation, agroforestry and others.
“Climes allows customers to choose which Indian climate solution their contributions will go to. Our customers are now engaging in climate action and sustainability with us through Climes. Among orders for products where Climes is integrated, all customers are made aware about their carbon emissions. Of them, a majority of customers take an active decision to neutralise their purchases in a single-click. This furthers our commitment toward sustainability across our supply chain. We continue to cut carbon at the source where we can, and offset what we can't,” explains Bikhchandani. And it’s not just fashion, Climes has partnered with brands including MakeMyTrip, TEDx, and Zingbus, so you can also make your next flight trip carbon neutral.
Founded by Siddhanth Jayaram and Anirudh Gupta (backed by different investors), Climes is one of the first few innovative companies in India in the climate tech and finance segment.
Both the founders arrived in the climate industry from different directions. Gupta was working with the Defence and Space team at Airbus, and Jayaram at Kalaari Capital. “We were independently harbouring ambitions to work within climate, and serendipitously pursued a similar point of entry. We met through Terra.do, a global platform for climate education and careers, where we were pursuing different cohort programs,” says Jayaram.
He says that Indian consumers are becoming far more climate-conscious, especially post-pandemic, and a significant percentage of customers are now willing to pay a slight premium for sustainable choices and sustainable alternatives. “Individuals care a lot more than consumer brands might like to admit; they just need to be given the choice. Climate action is possible at every point of consumption. Because everything we consume comes with a carbon footprint. We rigorously evaluate and list only high-quality climate solutions that remove or reduce emissions. The cost is anywhere between 1 to 5% of their total order value,” explains the co-founder.
Gupta adds that it’s impossible to stop consuming, but we can be better informed about the negative effects it has on our planet and do something about it. The Climes tech-stack informs users about everyday emissions and offers solutions. Climes uses a one-of-its-kind API technology and pulls the order data from their partner brands and uses a mathematical model for carbon accounting that calculates emissions for a specific order by the user.
“Our users can monitor all their climate action on a personalised dashboard that shows their lifetime climate action through Climes. We offer the option to track their Climes, and monitor when it will reach the climate solution they have supported. Users also receive quarterly updates on field-level progress which includes satellite imagery, videos and beneficiary testimonials to understand how they have enabled positive changes within the projects,” says Gupta.
Collaborating with such a platform makes sense for fashion brands, as more conscious consumers are ready to invest in brands that tend to be working towards making the planet a better place.