Responsible drinking habits are a crucial component of sustainability, and a young retailer is making an effort to train consumers accordingly.
Although online retailer Toward just launched in August last year, it is setting a bold precedent that it hopes established retailers will follow: On January 10, it placed a limit on the number of orders a customer can place each year. By requiring customers to log in to make a purchase, the platform is able to ensure that no more than 12 orders in a year, or on average one order per month, are placed by the same customer. By limiting orders, as opposed to items, Toward aims to reduce the environmental impact of shipments.
“Our approach as a recently launched company might seem counterintuitive: Why might we, a growing company, want to limit sales?” said Ana Kannan, founder of Toward. “But we want to be clear that our impact on the environment will always be our first consideration.”
It might come as no surprise that the founder who encourages fewer sales of clothing and beauty products is a member of the same generation who amplifies the importance of sustainability, promoting more responsible alternatives like second-hand fashion and lobbying government officials to act on changes. climatic.
After graduating from the University of Southern California in May 2020, Kannan developed the idea for Toward, a platform that would take the guesswork out of sustainable fashion. The retailer launched a year later, working only with brands it deems sustainable, including jeans labels like Agolde, Closed, and Citizens of Humanity. It ensures that its partners ‘brands establish fair working conditions across all their supply chains, respect workers’ human and labor rights, treat animals ethically, and demonstrate that their operations have minimal impact on the environment.
Site curation is a much needed solution for consumers who, despite having mostly good intentions, may have a hard time finding truly responsible brands. A 2021 Zalando survey of 2,500 consumers showed that 60% of respondents consider transparency important, but only 20% actively seek information from brands before buying. Additionally, 53% believe that brands’ ethical work policies are important, but only 23% investigate the policies themselves.
Toward’s initiative to limit orders despite only working with sustainable brands follows the general concept that the most sustainable purchase is not a purchase at all.
“We believe that for the industry to bring about true environmental change, it is simply not enough to produce only responsible goods,” said Kannan. “The big changes in fashion production and consumption also need to be addressed. We want to make sure we do our part as a responsible retailer to encourage customers to shop with intent and combat overconsumption. “
This kind of big picture is exactly what a sustainable fashion professor considers essential to the future of the business. Andrea Kennedy, assistant professor of sustainability and fashion merchandising at LIM College in New York City, addressed the need for “system thinkers” seeking to break away from the traditional and compelling approach to fashion for the environment and replace it with one with greater shared benefits.
In late 2021, Kannan continued to reverse the tradition by launching a popup in San Francisco dedicated to fighting greenwashing. The popup featured products from sustainable brands along with QR code screens that shoppers could scan for information on the sustainable partner verification process. This year, he plans to take an even bigger leap with Toward.
“In 2022, we hope to establish a more permanent physical presence, still dedicated to fighting greenwashing, and to continue to engage in policies that allow our customers to think more critically about their consumption,” he said.