Irresponsibility Report 2023

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Breaking news - Varusteleka reduced their CO2e emissions by 1,200 tons! See pics!

This piece of news could create very juicy clickbait headlines, but it would be blatant greenwashing. This is a fact, of course, and good for the environment, but the truth is a bit more complicated than that. Thus, it is good to be critical of figures like this and study the matter more deeply. So, in this case, read through the whole article.

Our partner Compensate went out of business last year. However, we did manage to stash away some carbon credits and have been doing carbon offsetting.

This isn’t the way to do it

2023 was not a great year for us, to put it mildly. Our warehouse was bursting with unsold stuff, and money got very tigh, which led to us cutting our purchases to a bare minimum. So, we produced and bought a lot less stuff in 2023, which not surprisingly led to the reduction of production-based emissions.

Diminished sales and purchases, of course, also led to many other emissions decreasing. Less garbage was produced, less packaging material was purchased, less stuff was shipped to our warehouse… If we compare the emissions to our turnover, the emissions decreased proportionally even more.

Emissions, kg3 998 252.542 716 710
Turnover, €23 133 30420 399 386
Carbon intensity, kg/€0.170.13

And what we did buy, was also different than usual. As a result, the share of more environmentally friendly materials in all our material use shrank from nearly one-third to 22 percent. This happened even though have continued our efforts to replace the virgin materials with recycled or at least organic options. Many of our products have very large minimum purchases, so this isn’t a huge surprise because the material needs can change a lot from year to year, depending on whether we order e.g. the cargo pants in November or February. Here’s another good reason why we want to move our production to Europe. We can drastically decrease the minimum purchase amounts, and our warehouse won’t get floodedd.

Better to emphasize quality than quantity

We witnessed the sad fact that when you ain’t got no money, it is also more difficult to reduce irresponsibility by improving your operating principles. Feelings are very conflicted at the moment. If you just look at the figures, last year was better for the environment than the previous one. For the company, not so much. Furthermore, our efficiency regarding the emissions and material use didn’t really improve even though there was a significant reduction in emissions. The efficiency alone isn’t a highway to happiness either; this world simply produces too much disposable crap, and it is impossible to counter that by just using recycled materials and making energy-saving changes. The fast fashion and other low-quality crap is the most blatant example of this.

People need clothes and gear, and of course, we want to be able to provide those for them. However, it is better for everybody that they are of good quality. Then you don’t have to keep replacing them all the time. The more we all emphasize quality over quantity, the less disposable crap is pushed on the market. It will also prove out to be cheaper in the long run. So, buy less but better quality, use what you have, and sell what you no longer need to your friends or to us!

What next?

Amidst this chaotic rollercoaster ride, it has become clear that different crises feed on each other, even globally. When an acute crisis happens, companies concentrate on that, and the long-term climate change-related work is forgotten. When the money runs out, you need to concentrate on staying afloat, and renewal is easily pushed into the background even though it is what would protect you from the next challenges. Environmental destruction will escalate the current crises and bring forth new ones, so promoting responsibility and the circular economy is also an important part of ensuring the security of supply - for individual people, companies, and countries alike.

Despite the challenges, we haven’t collapsed in the corner to cry; we’ve continued doing what we can. And yes, there is some slow and steady progress. As part of our US conquest, we will try to estimate how much emission savings we could get if we shipped large shipments to the US directly from the factory. Instead of storing everything here in Helsinki and shipping individual packages by plane across the Atlantic, we would have a warehouse in the States run by a third party, which would just ship stuff domestically.

Furthermore, we are looking into whether we could spread our Kierto circular economy service to the US and possibly the whole world. And we are also trying to estimate whether increasing the lifespan of products could be worth all the shipping?

We are pretty close to finalizing the move of our production to Europe. At the moment, it looks like the project will be completed in 2026. So, the fight continues!

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