“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading”, ― Siddhārtha Gautama.
The next United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 is around the corner, and you can hear the resounding rumble from last year’s IPCC’s climate report announcing ‘code red for humanity’. The fashion industry is a large contributor to the climate crisis, being responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions (by far more than international flights!). Given a quarter of fashion emissions occur whilst we use and wash our clothes, reinventing the way we do laundry is a pressing problem that Oxwash addresses every day.
Our ambition is to stop emitting greenhouse gases and remove everything we emit until that point. There are three crucial actions that will help us on the path to decarbonise our laundry service by 2028: transparent reporting, ambitious reduction plans to support Net Zero targets, and permanent removal of the carbon emissions we are unable to reduce. Let’s dive into what this means in practice.
We strongly believe that positive change demands transparency. We need to know where we are so we can ideate with our employees and partners how to improve in the future. We want our customers to know how much CO2e they save and all our stakeholders to have public visibility on our state of affairs through our annual sustainability reports. For all this, we meticulously calculate the quantity of greenhouse gases we have emitted every month, tracking our energy use (so-called Scopes 1 and 2) and our value chain emissions such as suppliers, business travel and waste (Scope 3).
Despite Oxwash’s ambitious growth, we have set targets to reduce our emissions. We aim to annually reduce our absolute CO2e, believing that a credible climate goal must demonstrate emission reductions on an absolute basis. This is in contrast to typical plans that reduce emission intensity per employee or per product unit, meaning that as the business scales - the emissions follow. We have joined hundreds of companies in setting Science-Based Targets that will take us to Net Zero by 2025 in our Scopes 1 and 2, and Scope 3 in 2028. These transparent targets are based on current climate research and provide a clearly-defined science-approved path to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement goals.
To achieve our ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals we are working on several exciting and innovative projects. One of them is our future lagoon Big Blue which will be the world’s first net-zero sustainable laundry facility, powered exclusively with renewable electricity.
At Oxwash, we have always been sceptical of conventional emission-avoidance carbon offsetting. This means that if a company buys offsets for one metric ton of carbon, one ton is avoided elsewhere by planting trees that will store this amount of carbon in the future or developing green-energy cookstove projects cutting the use of fuels in the long term. The problem is that a lot of these projects do not fulfil their destiny, with companies occasionally paying for projects that already would have been in place either way, multiple people taking credit for the same carbon offset or the ‘offsetting’ trees being burnt down by the climate-related fires.
Although offsetting may be better than not doing anything, it does not promote the changes required to reverse climate change. This is why we at Oxwash have decided to invest in the lesser-known strategy of carbon removal, to permanently remove any unavoidable emissions in our operations and supply chain now, not waiting for the distant future. A recent IPCC report reiterated the urgent need to scale carbon removal, which made us confident in our choice to contribute to the vital early growth of the carbon removal technologies. Our carbon neutrality is backed up by a portfolio of permanent carbon removal projects such as biochar, enhanced weathering and high-tech Direct Air Capture - all rigorously vetted by our partner Supercritical to ensure the impact and lack of negative side effects.
We all deserve a brilliantly clean and sustainable future. Oxwash was born with an engineering ethos at heart to reinvent the way we do laundry, helping clothes last longer without the environmental impact. The climate emergency requires us to rapidly reduce the rate at which we’re emitting: even as the business grows, we have plans to reduce the absolute emissions in total, through renewable energy and tech innovations. And in the meantime, we begin to ‘draw down’ our emissions from the atmosphere with the help of carbon removal. The planet doesn’t have time for anything less.