Why I, a sustainable blogger, shop at and endorse lululemon
lululemon announced their “two new initiative to underscore [their] Impact Agenda and deliver […] future-facing commitments towards sustainability.” I shared on LinkedIn how proud and impressed I am with the company publicizing this information and for taking the steps towards moving the athletic wear brand in a more environmentally positive direction. In this post, I’m going to be breaking down some of my thoughts on the news and also share why I shop the brand when there are other athleticwear companies farther along in their sustainability journey. Before I dive into the reasons, it’s important to define the term “sustainability.”
What is “sustainability”?
As I wrote in this blog post, sustainability has multiple components. First, sustainability is the practice of meeting our needs without compromising the environment and future generation’s ability to meet their own needs or compromise the Earth’s natural resources. Second, sustainability is understanding and recognizing our actions––what we purchase, the choices we make, etc. and using those patterns, resources, and items to regularly and to their full capacity.
This is why I shop at lululemon despite the company not being the most sustainable activewear brand:
lululemon is designed to last
Now, when we take those two principles and look at lululemon, they do the second aspect of sustainability well—their clothes are designed to last. A key component in sustainability and living consciously is reusing clothing and items in our lives more than once. We want to keep things out of landfills and from wasting the energy and resources that went into creating said garment or item. lululemon’s leggings are especially known for their durability compared to other companies—both ethically sourced, sustainable, or otherwise. lululemon does a phenomenal job at creating products that will last. Now that we have an understanding of their durability and their “shelf life” so to speak, we can tackle the environmental-specific aspect of sustainability.
lululemon has identified the issues
lululemon has done something, in my opinion, that is quite bold and needed in order to make lasting environmental change. lululemon has publicly addressed their desire to do better and be better. They have dedicated resources that aren’t greenwashing customers and supporters but have published authentic information regarding the company’s current standings. For instance, lululemon uses a lot of unnecessary plastic. When you purchase online, your items are individually wrapped and sent in plastic bags (no doubt with the goal to protect the garment inside) and then the items already coated in plastic are placed in another large plastic bag. When purchasing in stores, shoppers receive a reusable plastic bag at checkout. While the multi-use bag is amazing, it still is utilizing plastic. Not to mention in some stores plastic hangers, plastic tags, plastic mannequins, plastic materials for displays are utilized, and paper/plastic hybrid marketing materials are printed.
In lululemon’s press release they specifically identified their plastic consumption and the plan to reduce unnecessary materials used, replacing those materials items with recycled plastic—aka reusing plastic that is already created, to expand the life of a material that could otherwise end up in landfill/the ocean. Within the 3-page report (click here to read), lululemon has listed “reduce single-use plastic packaging by 50 percent by 2025” in their 12 priorities. lululemon hasn’t just publicized 12 things they want to do. They have set a plan in motion as to HOW the company will achieve it. For example, in aiming to reduce single-use plastic, lululemon has set a measurable goal of reducing this particular aspect of the company’s preventable waste, by 50%. Additionally, there is a deadline—a 50% reduction in single-use plastic by 2025. When we set goals to be better for the environment and venture into a sustainable journey, it’s important we’re aware of the multiple aspects of achieving the grand idea we have our eyes set on. It’s one thing to dream and to wish to be somewhere and wanting to improve, but in order for that idea to become a reality, we must include specifics and measurable variables to track how we are moving towards the place we want to be.
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lululemon is transparent
lululemon isn’t greenwashing us into thinking that the company is doing more for the environment than what is actually happening. They aren’t making any wild claims to be “100% plastic-free” or use “100% environmentally friendly materials” because I don’t know if the company can actually do that at this time. It’s not a one-day or one-year switch. There is a process and a journey in being able to claim and ACTUALLY be these things. lululemon isn’t carelessly attaching verbiage and phraseology to their plans or using their sustainable initiatives for marketing. In fact, I wish I had known more about their sustainability plan because I would be talking more about the company. lululemon doesn’t use their desire to steward the Earth as a way to sell their products. Instead, they recognize and understand the power of a larger company deciding to learn and walk the journey of ethical production, fair employment, diversity, and the environment.
In particular, I admire and appreciate lululemon’s abundance of information regarding the improvements they’re making and how such things are regulated. Last year I shared how they are on a mission to ensure their supply chain is ethical and fair—that lululemon is not one of the brands complacent in human trafficking. I shared the report they published and you, my lovely readers, were surprised to know that a large company cared and took the time to share the steps they’re taking to protect employees both in stores and on the production lines. Read: lululemon’s Modern Day Slavery Statement and Read lululemon’s Supply Chain Transparency Act.
Track lululemon’s sustainability and ethics progress
While researching lululemon’s sustainable and ethics reports, I found a third-party that tracks and compares companies progress. This platform is called “Know The Chain” which breaks down information so we as consumers can understand the brands we are purchasing from. I was shocked to see how high lululemon’s scores are. Click here if you want to view the breakdown of how they compare to the industry.
What lululemon’s Sustainability Plan actually Means:
1) lululemon is beta testing something called “Like New”
This is their version of a resale shop but exclusively for lululemon products. Californa and Texas stores are implementing this strategy allowing for shoppers to turn in gently used lululemon clothing they would otherwise throw away or donate to places that might not necessarily properly dispose of them. This may not sound all that interesting, but it’s VITAL to making a lasting environmental impact. The fashion industry is known for the poor impact on the earth and reusing clothing is a major player in being able to keep garments out of landfill or burned. In the USA 13 MILLION tonnes of clothes enter landfills and 85% of all textiles are not thrown away, according to research. Introducing the “Like New” option is not only a smart business move for lululemon, but puts pressure on other large companies to do better and be better.
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2) lululemon is taking action
lululemon “is working towards several sustainability goals that it laid out last fall, including making 100% of its products with sustainable materials and end-of-use solutions by 2030.” People are shocked that I shop at lululemon because they aren’t the leading brand in sustainable activewear, but it’s the transparency, advocacy, and actions like these two initiatives that make me a loyal customer. I’d rather support a brand that is actively trying to do better and constantly updating the world on their progress than endorse a company that uses eco-friendly vocabulary or stops at “ethical materials.”
Sustainability is a ✨journey.✨I love lululemon because their clothing LASTS. I haven’t had to replace my leggings or any other items that I’ve had for 5+ years. They make items to last and THAT is what sustainability is all about…using what we have more than once and learning how to improve.
👉Click here to read about lululemon’s new initiatives and their transparency within their sustainability report.