The RealReal measures environmental impact with new sustainability calculator

The RealReal

Luxury consignment company, The RealReal, has created a Sustainability Calculator that estimates the company has saved 65 million car miles and energy since it launched in 2012.

The calculator collected data from 2.5 million womenswear items that were consigned on the website, quantifying the positive savings of greenhouse gas (GHG), energy and water that giving clothing second life will have on the planet.

“Consigning is good for the environment, and I am thrilled we have developed a valid and quantifiable way for our customers to measure the positive impact their consignment has on the planet. It takes my breath away that people consigning apparel alone have made such a tremendous impact — the equivalent of 340,000 trees planted,” says The RealReal’s founder, Julie Wainwright.

To create the tool, The RealReal worked with Oregon based sustainable consultancy agency, Shift Advantage, as well as experts from the World Resource Institute (WRI) and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

With the help of its partners, the company created a methodology that measured four key metrics to estimate the planetary impact. These include:

  • Impact by Material: Energy, greenhouse gas and water consumption were estimated based on global averages for each material type. The RealReal does not own the manufacturing process of its goods.
  • Item Archetypes: The most common women’s clothing types were used to develop four archetypes for calculation: dresses, tops, jackets and knitwear.
  • Fabric Composites: The RealReal defragmented the inventory mix into the most common item-fabric combinations (i.e. silk, cotton, polyester, viscose, wool and linen).
  • Product Type Composites: Since every item consigned is unique, The RealReal used sample weights to develop average weight measures for each archetype fabrication group.

The consignment retailer is not the first to launch a sustainability calculator. In 2016 Kering partnered with Parsons School of Design in New York to create an Environmental Profit and Loss app (EP&L) to measure the impact of student’s creations.

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