Sustainability into Schools

Defining Sustainability in School Uniforms: Why Data Matters

In today’s increasingly eco-conscious world, schools have a significant role in shaping the next generation’s attitude towards sustainability. One area that offers a tremendous opportunity for change is school uniforms. Sustainable uniforms can contribute to environmental savings, but what does that really mean without data? In this article, we’ll explore the importance of actual data in calculating the environmental savings of school uniforms and defining sustainability.

The Growing Importance of Sustainability in Education

Sustainability has become a crucial aspect of education, as more schools are integrating eco-friendly practices into their curriculum and operations. As part of this movement, there’s a growing demand for sustainable school uniforms that are both environmentally friendly and ethically produced. The need for data-driven decision-making in this area has never been more critical, especially as more companies and institutions jump on the sustainability bandwagon.

The Challenge of Defining Sustainability in School Uniforms

The term “sustainable” is often thrown around without a clear understanding of what it means. When it comes to school uniforms, sustainability can be interpreted in various ways. Some might focus on the materials used, while others may consider the manufacturing process or the end-of-life disposal of the uniform.

Without clear data and a well-defined understanding of sustainability, claims of eco-friendly uniforms can be misleading, contributing to greenwashing. This is where data becomes crucial in defining sustainability in school uniforms and understanding the true environmental savings.

The Role of Data in Evaluating Environmental Impact

The environmental savings of sustainable uniforms can only be accurately determined through a deep dive into the entire supply chain, comparing the impact of sustainable materials with traditional materials. Defining sustainability in school uniforms can only be done by examining each stage of the supply chain – from raw material extraction to manufacturing, transportation, and end-of-life disposal – a data-driven analysis can reveal the true environmental impact of sustainable school uniforms.

Crunching the Numbers for The Arbor School

At Kapes we partnered with Green Story to conduct a comprehensive analysis of our supply chain. By comparing the environmental impact of our uniforms made from sustainable materials with that of traditional materials, to calculate the savings. The table below breaks down the emissions, energy, water, waste, and pesticides savings for each item. Using this data alongside our sales data, we are then able to calculate the overall environmental savings achieved by Arbor School through the adoption of sustainable uniforms.

Product NameMaterialEmissions (kgs of emissions avoided)Energy (kWh of energy conserved)Water (Litres of water saved)Waste (kgs of waste diverted from landfill)Pesticides (kgs of pesticides avoided)
Boys Shorts100% Organic Cotton0.1970.846202.3760.0000.000
Boys Trousers100% Organic Cotton0.1320.867190.9600.0000.000
Cap100% Organic Cotton0.1850.794189.7280.0000.000
Foundation Polo100% Organic Cotton0.2711.164278.2670.0000.000
Girls Trousers100% Organic Cotton0.1320.867190.9600.0000.000
Jacket100% Organic Cotton0.3441.481354.1580.0000.001
Legionnaire Cap100% Organic Cotton0.1850.794189.7280.0000.000
PE Shorts100% Recycled Polyester0.4483.5666.4510.1600.000
PE Top100% Recycled Polyester0.6164.9048.8700.2200.000
Primary Boys Shirt100% Organic Cotton0.1080.709156.2400.0000.000
Primary Girls Blouse100% Organic Cotton0.1080.709156.2400.0000.000
Secondary Short Sleeve Boys Shirt100% Organic Cotton0.1080.709156.2400.0000.000
Secondary Short Sleeve Girls Blouse100% Organic Cotton0.1080.709156.2400.0000.000
Skort100% Organic Cotton0.1080.709156.2400.0000.000
Swimming Costume78% Recycled Nylon, 22% Viscose1.2234.09512.6610.0910.000
Swimming Trunks78% Recycled Nylon, 22% Viscose0.6522.1846.7520.0490.000
Data provided by Green Story based on Kapes’ supply chain

Case Study: Arbor School’s Impact Savings

Arbor School has made a remarkable impact on the environment by choosing sustainable uniforms for their students. By analysing the data, we can see the significant savings they’ve made in various categories like emissions, energy, water, and waste, from August 2021 to April 2023.

To put this into perspective, Arbor has managed to avoid 9,112 kg of CO2 emissions, conserve 21,511.40 kWh of energy, save 1,971,812.55 litres of water, and divert 712.86 kgs of waste from landfills. These remarkable savings highlight the potential benefits that other schools can experience by adopting sustainable uniforms.

Offsetting the Environmental Impact of School Uniforms

While the use of sustainable materials and manufacturing processes significantly reduces the environmental impact of school uniforms, some carbon emissions and resource usage may still be unavoidable. To further mitigate this impact, schools can partner with organisations like Wildlife Works to offset their remaining carbon footprint.

Wildlife Works is an organisation dedicated to protecting wildlife, forests, and local communities through REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) projects. These projects focus on conserving and restoring forests, thereby preventing the release of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

By offsetting the environmental impact of school uniforms through Wildlife Works, schools can go a step further in their commitment to sustainability. This not only helps combat climate change but also supports local communities and wildlife conservation efforts.

When schools and uniform suppliers collaborate with Wildlife Works, they can measure and offset the carbon emissions associated with the production, transport, and disposal of school uniforms. This comprehensive approach ensures that schools take responsibility for their environmental impact and contribute to positive change on a global scale.

Incorporating carbon offsetting into a school’s sustainability strategy demonstrates a holistic approach to environmental responsibility. By embracing sustainable uniforms and offsetting their remaining impact, schools can inspire students, parents, and the wider community to take action for a better future.

The Role of Schools in Promoting Environmental Awareness

Schools have a unique opportunity to teach students about the importance of sustainability and the environmental impact of everyday choices, such as school uniforms. By incorporating sustainability principles into the curriculum and adopting eco-friendly practices like sustainable uniforms, schools can help students become environmentally conscious citizens.

Real-life examples, like the environmental savings achieved by sustainable uniforms, can make learning about sustainability more engaging and relatable. By encouraging students to question the environmental impact of their choices and make informed decisions, schools can empower the next generation to tackle the challenges of climate change and resource scarcity.

The Future of Sustainable School Uniforms

As the awareness of environmental issues grows, the demand for sustainable school uniforms is expected to increase. This presents an opportunity for schools to lead by example and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability through their uniform choices. By partnering with suppliers who prioritize transparency, ethical sourcing, and sustainable materials, schools can create a positive impact on the environment and society.

The future of sustainable school uniforms will likely involve innovative materials, eco-friendly production methods, and circular economy principles. Schools that embrace these changes can become pioneers in sustainability, inspiring students, parents, and the wider community.

Engaging Stakeholders in the Sustainability Journey

To achieve meaningful change, it’s essential to engage all stakeholders in the sustainability journey. This includes students, parents, teachers, and suppliers. By fostering open communication, collaboration, and shared values, schools can create a culture of sustainability that extends beyond the school gates.

Schools can also leverage their purchasing power to encourage suppliers to adopt more sustainable practices. By demanding transparency and supporting ethical, eco-friendly suppliers, schools can drive positive change in the school uniform industry.

Benchmark Your School Uniform’s Sustainability

Curious about how your school’s uniform measures up in terms of sustainability? Use our E.A.R.T.H School Uniform Sustainability Scorecard to find out. By answering 20 quick-fire questions in under 3 minutes, you’ll discover how your uniform scores in 5 key areas. Don’t miss the opportunity to make a positive impact on our planet!

The scorecard provides valuable insights into your school’s performance and identifies opportunities for improvement. Using these findings, you can make more informed choices about your school’s uniform and its environmental impact.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the environmental benefits of sustainable uniforms?

Sustainable uniforms help reduce emissions, conserve energy and water, minimize waste, and avoid the use of harmful pesticides. They are made from eco-friendly materials like organic cotton and recycled polyester, which have a lower impact on the environment.

How can we calculate the environmental savings of sustainable uniforms?

You can calculate the environmental savings by comparing the environmental impact of sustainable materials with that of traditional materials. Analyze factors like emissions, energy, water, waste, and pesticides to determine the overall savings.

What materials are used in sustainable uniforms?

Sustainable uniforms are made from eco-friendly materials like organic cotton, recycled polyester, and recycled nylon. These materials help reduce the environmental impact of clothing production.

What is the E.A.R.T.H School Uniform Sustainability Scorecard?

The E.A.R.T.H School Uniform Sustainability Scorecard is a tool designed to help you benchmark the sustainability of your school’s uniform. By answering 20 quick questions, you’ll discover how your uniform scores in 5 key areas related to sustainability.

What are some examples of schools that have successfully implemented sustainable uniforms

Arbor School is a great example of a school that has successfully implemented sustainable uniforms, resulting in significant environmental savings in various categories like emissions, energy, water, and waste.