In April 2020, Allbirds announced that it would begin labeling each item it produced with its carbon footprint to promote carbon transparency and ultimately drive down carbon emissions. As a brand built on sustainability, it's pioneered several initiatives, including a Carbon Fund and a Carbon Footprint Calculator. In a bid to encourage other fashion brands to add these emissions labels to their products, Allbirds recently decided to make its calculator, which was developed alongside third-party carbon experts, available to others.
The Carbon Footprint Calculator comes in the form of a life cycle assessment (LCA) tool that allows brands to model product carbon footprints through 5 phases: Materials, Manufacturing, Transportation, Use, End Of Life. Additionally, Allbirds provides a handy Carbon Footprint Manual to guide users through the LCA tool as well as a Carbon Footprint label template. These resources should theoretically help in making like-for-like comparisons across companies and mitigate consumer confusion given that the methodologies used to report and measure emissions often vary by company or industry.
However it's not just consumers who'll be keeping an eye on these changes. As consumers continue to place more value on sustainability and more brands begin to adopt emissions labeling, regulators will undoubtedly shift their focus to the fashion industry to ensure that greenwashing doesn't occur. NAD already noted an uptick last year in the number of greenwashing claims made by advertisers across industries, spanning from claims of biodegradibility to non-toxicity.
As emissions labeling becomes more commonplace in the fashion industry, brands should pay close attention to state laws and the FTC's Green Guides. While it remains to be seen whether Allbirds' Carbon Footprint Calculator will form the basis of an industry standard, emissions labeling is still somewhat of a Wild West. Therefore the Green Guides provide valuable guidance on how to make non-deceptive environmental marketing claims, including carbon offset claims.