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MONEY & BUSINESS: Lululemon faces backlash over using coal plants

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Nearly 2,000 yoga fanatics called on fitness wear giant Lululemon to phase out the use of coal-powered factories that produce the brand’s popular line of stretch pants and other athletic gear. 

The climate campaign launched by Advocacy groups Stand.earth and Actions Speaks Louder demands Lululemon transition fully to sourcing its products from factories powered by renewables by 2030, in an open letter signed by 1,698 yoga students and teachers from 30 countries.

“Burning coal to make hoodies and ‘Hotty Hot’ high-rise pants is unacceptable,” wrote Tias Little, the co-founder of Prajna Yoga. 

“The pollution from the production of lululemon’s apparel is a threat both to human health and climate change,” signed Yogacharini Maitreyi, the founder of Arkaya Awareness. 

The company manufactures much of its activewear in Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Lululemon

Last Saturday, dozens of yoga enthusiasts and other climate activists gathered outside Lululemon’s headquarters in Vancouver to participate in what Stand.earth called “the largest yoga protest.” 

“Yoga practitioners are concerned about their health and the health of the planet,” said Gary Cook, the Global Climate Campaigns Director at Stand.earth. “They are sending a loud and clear message to Calvin McDonald, the company’s CEO, and Lululemon.” 

The Canadian-based company – whose motto is “Be Human, Be Well, and Be Planet” – touted that it reached an 82% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions at its facilities, topping its 60% target, in its latest sustainability report last Tuesday.

Lululemon store
The Canadian-based company – whose motto is “Be Human, Be Well, and Be Planet” – touted that it reached an 82% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions at its facilities, topping its 60% target,
LightRocket via Getty Images

The company manufactures much of its activewear in Vietnam, Cambodia, China, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. According to the activist groups, fossil fuels make up 73% of Lululemon’s current energy mix, with coal accounting for 49%, followed by gas (19%) and oil (5%). Renewables stand at just 4%, with hydropower making up the rest (23%).

Lululemon hoodie
Lululemon is one of the fastest growing brands, with a record 20% annual growth last year.
Lululemon

“Lululemon’s climate commitments are not as ambitious as needed,” Cook said. “In fact, the company’s emissions are 10% up from last year.”  

A Harvard study found one in every five premature deaths globally are caused by air pollution, the activists groups pointed out in demanding the Lululemon moves to 100% renewable energy throughout its supply chain by 2030. 

Lululemon is one of the fastest growing brands, with a record 20% annual growth last year. Its quarterly revenue was $1.9 billion.

“Lululemon is already an economic leader. We’re asking lululemon to be a climate leader,” Cook said. 

Lululemon said it is transparent about its commitments. 

“We are committed to continuing to innovate across the supply chain and are actively working with industry partners to be a part of the solution,” a company spokesperson said.



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