OUR THOUGHTS ON DEPOP'S SUSTAINABILITY PLAN - A Shift
Thoughts, Discussion Time

OUR THOUGHTS ON DEPOP’S SUSTAINABILITY PLAN

Posted in Thoughts, Discussion Time — 15. March 2021 — Written by Mona

The fashion marketplace and vintage shopping app Depop recently announced its sustainability plan and goal to become climate neutral in the next two years. Amazing news! But is that even possible? How do they plan to achieve this goal and what else should we know about Depop’s plan? Let’s talk about it! 

The fashion marketplace app Depop mainly used to resell clothes has recently announced on social media and on its website that it not only wants to become climate neutral but that it is trying to achieve its goals faster than by 2030 – the usual year we get to hear from politicians and big corporations. So, what exactly does Depop want to achieve? How sustainable is Depop? We looked more into their claims and want to talk about Depop’s sustainability plan today.

The app

The app’s main goal is to keep already existing clothes passing from one person to the next involving stories, memories and the culture in order to slow down the demand for new and fast fashion. Consuming and recycling what we already have is one of the best ways to preserve the environment as (almost) no new resources are needed. On top of that, the app creates new connections, ideas, hopes and ways of experiencing clothes. Depop calls fashion a global language as our clothes always tell a story about who we are – a language that is constantly adapting and changing. With these changes come new action that we need to take together. Depop acknowledges this in its new sustainability plan. So, what exactly are the goals?


Depop announces sustainability plan for 2021

The plan

Recently Depop made an announcement that the app is trying to become climate neutral. Just this month the app that allows people and small businesses to buy and sell new and used clothing acknowledged that we are currently in a climate crisis in a newsroom article. The app’s goal? To be climate neutral in the next two years. While political leaders and many companies usually claim to take action by 2030 Depop wants to take action now. Therefore, the people behind the app posted a two-year plan detailing the actions they will take as a company to address their impact. 

The goals

Depop’s main goal is to obtain the Climate Neutral Label by the end of 2021. The app is starting off its goal to become climate-neutral by retroactively offsetting all shipping emissions from 2020 up to right now. As Depop researched that shipping can make up around 98% of a marketplace’s CO2 footprint. How is Depop going to counter those emissions? The plan is to purchase verified carbon credits. This means Depop will try to compensate for past emissions by supporting climate action projects. In 2020 Depop produced 16,873 tonnes of CO2 emissions – an equivalent to the annual electricity used by 8,400 UK citizens. Since then the app has partnered with the climate solution provider and developer South Pole. By partnering up all of Depop’s 2020 shipping emissions have been compensated as they have funded two projects to neutralise the shipping footprint. 

Moreover, Depop is supporting the Kariba Forest Protection and the Dora-II Geothermal project based in Turkey – one of the biggest suppliers for cotton. The Kariba Forest Protection provides health clinics with clean water and teaches sustainable farming techniques while also investing in youth education. Depop’s goal is to shape a new fashion system that is kinder to the planet and to people. Therefore, on top of supporting various climate projects, Depop made a list of actions the company wants to take. On top of that, these actions address the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Depop’s goals are split into the four focus areas 1. Governance, 2. People, 3. Planet and 4. Platform. Starting next year the app will report its progress on these. 

So what do the four focus areas include? We tried to summarize them as best as we could. You can find Depop’s complete sustainability plan for 2021-2022 here.  

GOVERNANCE

In the area of governance Depop has multiple objectives and related targets to reach by the end of 2022. To summarize a few of them, Depop wants to create a strong governance for sustainability, align operations with best responsible practices and be as transparent as possible when it comes to the company’s processes by publicly disclosing an annual progress update on sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. 

PEOPLE

When it comes to the area of people, Depop is planning on promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the workforce by improving the gender balance and achieving a number of at least 30% of women in engineering and data science positions. Increasing the racial and ethnic diversity specifically in leadership and executive positions is a target as well. On top of that, Depop is going to conduct and publish a pay gap diagnostic with the goal of promoting and ensuring equitable pay and fair wages next to a few more targets. 

PLANET

The area ‘Planet’ focuses on offsetting shipping emissions, achieving climate neutrality by the end of 2021, running low impact operations and starting to power the company with renewable energy. Moreover, Depop wants to start reporting and set targets to reduce energy and water use as well as waste by 2022. 

PLATFORM

With the focus are ‘Platform’ Depop wants to promote circularity within the Depop community, meaning the app is planning on developing initiatives and programmes to allow sellers ‘to connect with organisations or individuals to source inventory, sustainable materials, or dispose of unsellable garments responsibly’. The app also wants to promote circular or responsibly-made fashion on depop, empower its users to easily buy and sell mindfully on Depop, promote diversity, equity and inclusion within the marketplace next to many more targets. 

What do we think of that? 

First off, we are excited to see big apps like Depop trying to promote sustainability and focusing more on the aspect of circularity. Especially because fast fashion requires many resources like water, air and often unfair labour. Buying secondhand and vintage clothing is one of the best ways to counter our fast consumer behaviour. Depop’s goals and targets to become more sustainable are good. However, it has to be noted that this is simply a plan, kind of like a promise to the world and us, the consumers. We will have to wait to see. 

Diversity issues

What we find unfortunate is that there were no clear numbers when it comes to the ethnic diversity in leadership positions Depop is promising to work on. What number are they trying to increase and how many Black people and people of colour will Depop hire to be in leadership positions? In one of the app’s blog posts on BLM the company revealed the number of employees that are Black or POC. The numbers at that moment in time were: 0% Black people in executive positions, 9% POC in executive positions, 8% Black people in leadership positions, 11% POC in leadership positions, 11% Black employees and 24% POC. We would love to see a specific number Depop wants to achieve. While the company said they were looking for its first ‘in-house Diversity & Inclusion leader’ we as consumers have no idea about how good Depop’s actual intentions are. Who is going to be this leader? 

Is carbon neutrality the solution?

A good thing: Depop already achieved to neutralise the shipping footprint from 2020 which is amazing news. While neutralising their footprint is great we would love to see Depop get down to the root of the problem. So we hope Depop goes even further and decides to promote ordering with friends or simply not order what you don’t really need. Then again, Depop relies on sales. The more people buy, the better for Depop. On top of that, imply neutralising the carbon footprint is often not enough. The ultimate goal should be to become climate positive (also known as carbon negative). 

So what do we really think about Depop’s sustainability plan?

The world isn’t perfect, neither is Depop and neither are we, but every step into the right direction is a start. Depop explained that the company is aware that carbon offsetting is not the only solution and should only come as a last resort. However, the app wants to set these short term goals instead of promising to do something in the far future. We are excited to see what happens until 2022 and hope that Depop will make an everlasting positive change! 

We like to look into companies sustainability claims and plans and while we do that we like to fact check them for you. So if this was interesting maybe our recent article about the “sustainable” brand nu-in is interesting for you!

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