Building A Greener Future: CG

Co Founder and CEO of Stories Behind Things spoke to Gavin Thompson, VP Corporate Citizenship at Canada Goose.

When Stories Behind Things partners with global brands who are looking to build a greener future, it’s important for us to take stock of that business’ direction, transparency and accountability. For this reason, we requested to *virtually* sit down with CG (Canada Goose) to discuss their sustainability goals, what they consist of, and how they plan to be held accountable by third party organisations, to achieve these. We feel it is important when partnering with global brands to open up a direct line of communication from the brand to our community, to allow them to demonstrate how the the positive change we need within the industry will be achieved. This interview is not part of our paid partnership.

1. Product - CG have just launched The Standard Parka (in January 2021) which encapsulates the CG heritage while setting a new standard for sustainable outwear at CG. The Standard Parka includes some impressive innovations such as 31% lower carbon footprint, 68% lower water footprint, organic cotton, responsibly sourced down etc. Is this a new and exciting step for CG to start producing other products in line with these new sustainability aspects?

Yes! We are so excited with this launch as it is our most sustainable parka to date, the Standard Expedition Parka. The Standard, inspired by the iconic Expedition Parka, will help set the standard for the future of sustainable outerwear at Canada Goose. Innovation is at the core of everything we do, be it through introducing new materials, fabrics, processes, while still staying true to our function-first model and delivering best in class quality. The Standard Expedition stands up to our rigorous quality standards and performance that our consumers have come to expect from. It is made from recycled and undyed fabrics, lining and interlining, 100 per cent responsibly sourced down and reclaimed fur. This new coat exemplifies our strategy and commitment to sustainability. The griege colourway is a result of limited chemical use with the undyed fabrics. These fabrics and materials impacted the Standard’s footprint. The parka generates 30 per cent less carbon and utilizes 65 per cent less water, compared to the existing Expedition Parka. Looking into the future this is the first step we are taking as a brand, in terms of product, under our purpose-based platform HUMANATURE, uniting our sustainability and values-based initiatives. There will be more exciting news to come this year. 

2. Sustainability Reporting - In 2019 you formed your first public Sustainable Impact Strategy. We feel it’s important to see brands publicly publishing sustainability goals and sharing their steps to achieve them. Could you share with us some of the main goals CG is looking to achieve over the next few years?

Absolutely, we have a long tradition of committing to sustainability, with our Sustainable Impact Strategy we are now publicly tying our actions to defined goals and firm deadlines. We launched our first Sustainability Report and Strategy last year on Earth Day with a clear focus on our key commitments to keep the planet cold and the people on it warm. Our report puts a stake in the ground, includes more aggressive goals than ever before and commits our company to real action. In publishing our report, we now have an annual commitment to report on our progress against our goals. Here are five key initiatives, in addition to the numerous goals in our plan:

o Carbon Neutrality: We’re committed to net zero direct and indirect (Scope 1 and 2) greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, through aggressive and tangible action plans which aim to reduce emissions by more than 80 per cent from current levels

o Reclaimed Fur: From 2022, we plan to use only reclaimed fur in our supply chain. This means that we will manufacture parkas using reclaimed fur and end the purchase of new fur. With the recent launch of the Standard Expedition Parka we have introduced our first product using this new “standard”.

o Responsible Down Standard: In 2019, in partnership with Textile Exchange, we completed third-party compliance audits at 100 per cent of our manufacturing facilities and we have committed to being 100 per cent RDS-certified by 2021.

o Bluesign: We’re committed to reaching 90 per cent of Canada Goose fabrics as bluesign® approved for responsible and sustainable practices by 2025, increasing from 32 per cent in 2019.

o Eliminating Single-Use Plastics: We’re committed to eliminating single-use plastics in all of our owned or controlled facilities

3. Progress Over Perfection - We believe that all brands, no matter how big or small, have a responsibility to commit to building a more sustainable future. In CG’s experience, how difficult is it for a global brand like yourself to transition towards a greener future?

This isn’t new territory for us, we have always been transparent about our business – how and where we source materials and manufacture products, our commitment to the environment and the communities we serve. One of the most fundamental – and long-standing sustainable choices we’ve made is that we make high quality garments that last for years. Our products are produced using the best materials, Canadian craftmanship and all come with a lifetime warranty. One of the easiest and most effective ways to use fewer resources and move toward eliminating the concept of waste in the apparel industry is to simply keep clothes in use longer. Our products are designed to last a lifetime, not just a season. Now more than ever, consumers want to know about what companies are doing to manage their impact on the environment, they want to buy from a company that is good for the world and they are mindful of how and where their products are made. Now is the time for businesses to ask what they can do for their customers and for their planet, rather than waiting for governments to intervene.

4. No New Fur From 2022 - CG plan to begin “making parkas using reclaimed fur and end the purchasing of new fur in 2022.” And you say within your sustainability report “We are proud to announce this commitment because we believe we must operate sustainably. It’s the right decision for our business, our customers and most importantly, our future.” This is a huge step for CG. Please shine light on why you made this decision, and the difference of using reclaimed fur than sourcing it directly in relation to its environmental impact?

This is a huge step indeed and we are committed to introduce reclaimed fur by 2022, or sooner. With the Standard Expedition Launch we have already put our commitment into action. Let me explain what we mean by reclaimed fur at Canada Goose. We are focused on making a sustainable material more sustainable and we believe our commitment to reclaimed fur is right thing to do; for the environment, our business, and the future of our planet. Reclaimed fur is existing fur that is already in circulation. People may call it recycled or reused, but at its core it’s taking something existing and repurposing it into our supply chain. As with many of our products and projects, we’ve been inspired by the people of the North. Sewers in Inuit communities will often repurpose, or “upcycle” fur year after year, generation after generation, to create new designs for traditional handmade parkas and accessories to keep themselves and their families warm. Reducing, Reusing, Recycling are foundational elements of sustainability – using reclaimed fur is our commitment to putting this mantra into action. Our goal to introduce reclaimed fur into our supply chain and end sourcing “new” fur by 2022 is a big, bold change and will transform our business and the wider industry. As of today, we plan to launch a consumer buy-back program – for Canada Goose customers who aren’t using their fur or don’t need it. We will also close a loop within our own warranty program, reusing returned fur on warranty products. Further to this, we also believe that there is a significant supply of reclaimed fur available globally, and we’ve already started exploring how we can integrate that into our own manufacturing. Following the just recently launched Standard Expedition Parka customers can expect to see more products with reclaimed fur available in stores from FW22. We’re excited to take this on.

5. Carbon Offsetting – CG commit to offsetting their annual carbon footprint by 200% on our journey to 2025. What sorts of things need to be addressed to achieve this ambitious goal?

One of our main goals is to achieve carbon neutrality. Like most businesses we see carbon emissions derived from our use of energy and from waste. We already rely on carbon-free, renewable energy for approximately 85% of the electricity we use, which is a benefit derived from our manufacturing being based in Canada – the domestic power grid consists of mostly hydro and nuclear power. We plan to achieve or exceed our target of net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions by implementing detailed action plans which include comprehensive recommendations on everything from adopting more recycled materials, to reducing waste. As part of our Sustainable Impact Strategy, we are also committed to increasing our use of renewable energy through a variety of ways – including purchasing renewable energy credits, as well as exploring new and emerging energy technologies.

6. Sustainable Stores - CG have stores all over the globe and you have big plans to transition them to become more environmentally conscious. What kind of changes should we expect to see in your stores?

We are early in the journey on this, but our retail teams and our Sustainability Councils around the world are already taking great strides in reducing the environmental impacts across our stores globally. This includes moving away from single-use plastics, exploring options for recycled paper and creating more sustainable visual displays. All our retail theatre windows are now designed with at least 65% sustainable materials. The materials used in the window and in-store display in all stores that offer the Standard Expedition Parka – from Vancouver to New York City to Shanghai – are sustainable and 100 percent recyclable, including the use of recycled timber and paint that has less of an impact on the environment. Additionally, we have offset the carbon emissions generated from the life cycle assessment of this parka as part of its pledge to measure, manage and mitigate its climate impact. Our global teams are a key part of our Sustainability Report and our governance structure. There is an employee-led Sustainability Council for every region in which we operate. These councils drive local sustainability initiatives, such as making our retail stores more environmentally conscious, and feedback to the global working group and have a direct impact on the change they want to see in our business. Our teams are energized, and we’ve received incredible feedback on our plans so far.

7. Message to the SBT Community – Our community is filled with sustainability-minded humans who prioritize the people and planet. Our last question is, if you could share one message about the CG sustainability journey, what would it be?

If I had to share one message, it would be to join us in our mission to keep the planet cold and the people on it warm. Last year we introduced HUMANATURE, our purpose platform that unites all of our sustainability and values-based initiatives. HUMANATURE is more than a platform it is our brand philosophy which means it is embedded in all of our decision making. We are forever inspired by the people of the North who have lived in harmony with nature for thousands of years and whose practices are rooted in sustainability. We strive to repair the gap between humanity and the natural world, but we also know that as citizens of a global community we can always do more. It’s that idea that gave us the inspiration to call our purpose commitment HUMANATURE – as we are part of nature and nature is part of us. We decided to launch the platform to unite the brand behind a singular purpose–to keep the planet cold and the people on it warm. In order to keep the planet cold, Canada Goose has a decades-long tradition of being a sustainably led company with our lifetime warranty and commitment to making our core products in Canada. We unveiled our Sustainable Impact Strategy in April, building on these core values and outlining our vision for the future. This purpose commitment is embedded across every aspect of our company’s operations; from sustainably designed products, like the Standard Expedition Parka, to our longstanding partnership with Polar Bears International, the only global organization dedicated solely to conserving wild polar bears and their habitat and our membership of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, providing sustainability measurement tools. We keep people warm by honouring and invigorating communities, prioritizing philanthropic endeavors and building culture through the arts. The Resource Center Program is one example, where leftover materials from our production lines are donated to Inuit communities to craft their own clothing. We recently expanded to also include the donation of repurposed parkas to deliver warmth to Northern communities. Project Atigi is a social entrepreneurship project for seamstresses from Inuit regions creating capsule collections bringing them to a global audience. During the pandemic the Canada Goose Response Program was brought to life, pivoting our production to manufacture medical gowns and scrubs, protecting the people who protect us. With the recent launch of our HUMANATURE Pass, a one-hour weekly pass encouraging employees to set aside time during business hours to go out into nature. Essentially, we want to inspire all people to reconnect with that fundamental part of themselves; their own HUMANATURE. For decades, Canada Goose has built a reputation for warmth. Our apparel enables human survival in the outdoors – whether its snow, rain, wind or cold – so that people can thrive in the elements and focus on the experience at hand. Drafting off this legacy, HUMANATURE will now galvanize Canada Goose’s approach to its longstanding social initiatives. We continue to transform the way we do business – with sustainability at the forefront, while remaining dedicated to our function-first design.


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