Swedish outdoor brand Houdini aims to understand a garment’s total environmental impact on our world. Therefore Houdini asked researchers from Albaeco and Mistra Future Fashion to assist in performing the first ever  corporate sustainability  pilot study based on the planetary boundaries framework. 

Together with Marika Haeggman and Fredrik Moberg from Albaeco, Gustav Sandin, researcher at RISE within Mistra Future Fashion, performed a planetary boundary assessment now published as a pilot study and appendix of Houdinis complete sustainability report. We, at Mistra Future Fashion, are honored to be part of the research behind this report and support the long-term ambition to create an open-source approach that will provide Houdini and other similar companies with a more holistic view on their sustainability efforts.

One of the conclusions in the report points to the importance of considering the entire value chain when assessing a garments climate impact. Examining data points from six different materials showed that no specific fabric in itself guarantees sustainability.  An exerpt:  “From this pilot study it is clear that no fibre is perfect from a planetary boundaries perspective. For example, virgin polyester tends to require small amounts of water to produce, but is very energy intensive and uses non-renewable crude oil as raw material.”

In the report the effect on each boundary is clearly stated as well as goals for future clothing production. Houdini’s ambition is to produce clothing able to do good, compare to simply not being bad. In others words, they strive to produce climate positive fashion.  An excerpt from the report: “One benefit of working with the planetary boundaries framework is that it offers a more holistic approach than many other tools for analysis. Rather than focusing solely on for example water, chemical or energy use, a planetary boundaries assessment needs to cover a multitude of critical factors. “

The report, made public in April 2018, is a pilot study and based on nine environmental boundaries. The Planetary Boundaries processes are: (1) climate change, (2) pollution by novel entities, (3) stratospheric ozone depletion, (4) alteration of atmospheric aerosols, (5) ocean acidification, (6) perturbation of biogeochemical flows (nitrogen and phosphorus inputs to the biosphere), (7) unsustainable freshwater use, (8) landsystem change, and (9) changes in biosphere integrity (or destruction of ecosystems and biodiversity). Defined by Rockström and others, 2009

Photo borrowed from Houdini, by Nakshe Ghalat. Planetary boundaries assessment performed by: Marika Haeggman and Fredrik Moberg from Albaeco and Gustav Sandin from RISE