When carbon neutral isn’t enough. Why BAM is climate positive

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Today we’re celebrating that BAM is now climate positive. In part, we’re celebrating because it was a huge undertaking – years of work – and we’ve done it.

But we’re also celebrating what being climate positive means for BAM. This is a stake in the ground. It shows we’re serious about the environment. It shows we’re committed to doing everything it takes.

To be climate positive we’ve offset 100% of all the emissions generated through our clothing life-cycle. And we’ve done it by funding a project that is life-changing for the people it helps.

But what’s involved in becoming climate positive?  And what do we do next?

Step one: Understand your climate impact.

When we started on this journey, we wanted to address our impact as a company and be carbon neutral. But the more we thought about it, the more we realised that the direct impact of the BAM business is actually very small compared of the total impact of making our clothes.

What about the bamboo farming? What about the pulping? The fibre production?

We wanted to address the impact of the whole life-cycle of our clothes from the moment the bamboo leaves the ground. For that we had to trace our supply chain right back to our growers. It took two years. But it has allowed us to calculate the full footprint of our clothing production.

Even though this already goes way beyond what most other companies do, it didn’t seem to us to be the whole picture. The whole life-cycle of our garments includes how you, our customer cares for your clothes. Laundering clothes generates carbon emissions. We needed to know the impact of that too.

To make sure we established a robust approach to working out our emissions, we worked with Simon Brown from the Positive Momentum Business Consultancy. Simon is a leading expert in measuring and reducing environmental impacts (if you’re serious about your environmental impact, he’s the guy to know).

This is how our emissions break down:

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BAM as a company generates 22.2% of the carbon emissions that are created in the life-cycle of our clothes. Offsetting just those 22.2% of emissions would make us carbon neutral.

But we want to make sustainable clothing. So to us it’s not enough to only offset the 22.2%. That’s when we decided to offset 100% of our emissions (nearly five times more), for BAM, the whole production process and for the laundry of your BAM clothes too.

Step two: Take action supporting projects that have a far-reaching impact in line with our impact positive goals.

Offsetting 100% of these emissions is costing us a significant proportion of our profit.  This is money that can make a real difference to communities around the world.

We didn’t want to just plant trees as so many other businesses do. So when we found the Water Boreholes, Kenya Project we knew this was the right one for BAM.

This Gold Standard certified project isn’t simply about offsetting carbon. It makes a life-changing difference to people in vulnerable communities.

The project has already repaired over 60 boreholes, providing access to safe water to 37,000 people in Kenya. Not only that, because the water no longer needs to be boiled to be safe, it reduces deforestation and in turn reduces emissions.

This is what our money does. It gets clean water to people who need it and cuts emissions at the same time. And because we decided to offset nearly five times more, we can make a real impact.

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Step three: Reduce your impact as much as you can.

By offsetting the full 100% of our emissions and using the money to finance a life changing project, we’ve reduced our impact as much as we can. For now.

But offsetting allows us to compensate for the carbon emissions generated. It doesn’t reduce the amount of carbon emissions generated.

If we’re serious about the environment, we have to cut carbon emissions.

If we’re serious about the environment we must change the way we work.

We are now rethinking our entire supply chain so that we don’t generate carbon emissions in the first place. As you can imagine, it’s a huge challenge.

We’ve set ourselves the goal of carbon zero by 2030. Every year we’ll set out what we’ll do to get close to that goal and we’ll report it to you.

Today we’re celebrating. Because becoming climate positive isn’t just a milestone on the way to   carbon zero. It’s a clear indication of our environmental ambitions and commitment to them. We’re all in.

Read our Impact Positive Report to see how we’re cutting all our significant impacts.