WHY WE CARE ABOUT CARBON
BY Hanna Griesbeck Garcia
Why we care about carbonCarbon is an essential element for life on earth – it’s in the air, the soil, the ocean and inside every living thing. There’s nothing wrong with carbon itself; without interference, the natural carbon cycle would be in balance.
The problem is that hundreds of years of humans releasing greenhouse gases (GHG) like carbon dioxide and methane has led to a higher concentration of those gases in the earth’s atmosphere. Greenhouse gases let the sun's light into the atmosphere but trap the heat that is radiated back from the earth surface, causing the planet to warm up unnaturally fast. This mechanism is also known as the greenhouse effect.
This trapping of the heat has caused global average temperatures to rise. This has and will continue to lead to irreversible changes to our ecosystems. Many of the effects, such as droughts, floods or high and low temperatures, won’t be new phenomena. However, the extremes to which we are, and will be, experiencing them will be much more intense, more frequent and will last for longer.
What is being done?In 2015, the Paris Agreement was signed with the intention to bring about action that would limit global average temperature rise to a maximum of 2 degrees celsius, with the ultimate goal of keeping the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre industrial levels.
Although most nations have signed it, this is not a legally binding agreement. Adding to this are the predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that even if (and that's a big if) the actions agreed to in the Paris Agreement are implemented, they will not be sufficient to keep global heating to the two-degree mark.
What we need to doWe need to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we emit. According to the IPCC we need to reduce the amount we emit by around 50% compared to current levels by 2030.
This leaves less time than we might think we have. Realistically speaking we have two, maybe three years to implement the necessary measures to see significant emission reductions by 2030.
On a macro level this means that we have to reduce the extraction and use of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) dramatically.
What hylo are doing about itFor hylo, this means constantly looking for ways we can reduce our emissions and, with it, our environmental impact. From creating a product that is better for planet, to pushing for a more circular model of operating, to managing our direct business emissions. We are never finished exploring and implementing ways to reduce our emissions.
Some of the ways we reduced the carbon footprint of our first product were:
Using renewable materials - these are resource-light compared to the reliance on fossil fuels in the shoe industry
We design with less. The average running shoe has 65 different parts with more than 360 processing steps. This results in a high carbon output during manufacturing due to the high amount of processing steps. The hylo Light has 12 materials across 16 components. Using fewer components, materials and processes means the Light is less energy-intensive to build.
We ship rather than fly our products from factory to warehouse. Because air freight is 44-times more emissive than sea freight.
The emission of GHGs is just one side of the climate crisis and this post barely scratches the surface of scientific knowledge about GHG and their effect. We believe that it is important to dive into these topics as we need to understand what is at stake and what the causes and consequences are to be able to talk about why we do what we do properly.