Climate change is real. And although we are trying to produce and develop sustainably, we need to face up to the honest fact that the textile industry is partly to blame for the warming of our planet.

Depending on where you get your statistics, the textile and apparel industry contributes between 2% and 10% to global greenhouse gas emissions. And these estimates are rising; the Ellen MacArthur Foundation predicts that business-as-usual practices will result in our industry responsible for more than a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

We’ve known for a long time that action needs to be taken. And we haven’t been idle. We phased our PFCs in our impregnation in 2011, we’ve been switching our cotton to organic and choosing recycled materials over raw. But we’ve also known for a long time that we can make a bigger impact if we work together with other players.

“There’s power in numbers,” explains Christiane Dolva, Fjällräven’s head of sustainability. “The textile and apparel industry is contributing to global warming. That’s a fact. We need to tackle it. And we all face the same kind of challenges. So it’s time to lift it from the individual brand level to the industry-wide need for innovation.”

Scandinavian brands have been at the forefront of sustainable development for some time. This is largely consumer driven; but it’s also due to government policies and laws, as well as a high level of awareness among domestic companies. Having big players in the textile industry, such as H&M, has also been a driver for change.

A year ago a group of brands decided to group together to form an ‘action learning network’ to identify what tools to use and even create tools where they are absent as well as learn from each other and innovate together. That small group has now expanded to more than 40 Scandinavian brands, including Fjällräven, H&M and Peak Performance.

“Emissions are measured in three so-called scopes. Scope 1 is that we are directly responsible for, i.e. things we own. Scope 2 is things we purchase or use, such as the electricity we buy in our offices. Then Scope 3 is the rest, which includes product development, transportation and the emissions at factory level and so on. The group’s purpose is to see how we can improve at all levels and how we can place targets on ourselves and our development.”

We also have a clean goal of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030. This is something we can measure and it’s a clear goal we can stick too. It’s ambitious but it’s definitely not impossible.

“Just having a good way to measure our Scope 3 emissions is challenging. We could sit by ourselves and try and work out a good way of doing it; but we think it’s way better to work this out together with other brands that share our challenges and goals.”

We, together with all these other Scandinavian brands know we are part of the problem. But together we want to be part of the solution, too.

You can find out more about the Swedish Textile Initiative for Climate Action here.

Text: Sarah Benton