A successful reforestation program and multiple other actions underway attest to the clothing brand’s commitment to the sustainability agenda
The idea was to plant a thousand trees daily. And it worked. In June 2022, Farm received the Brazil 2022 SDG Strategy Award in the Private Sector category for the ‘A thousand trees a day, every day’ reforestation program. The recognition by the SDG Strategy coalition (which brings together the civil society, private sector, governments and academia to discuss the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Brazil) is further proof of the company’s commitment to environmental conservation.
According to its latest sustainability report, published in 2021, Farm made headway “in all aspects of the ESG Agenda” and enhanced its understanding of what it means to be “a brand that grows hand in hand with sustainability, diversity and equality.”
Success – For now, the ‘A thousand trees a day, every day’ program is the top item in Farm’s sustainable agenda. The joint initiative involving the brand in Brazil and Farm Global was launched in September 2020 and, by the end of last year, celebrated 513,000 trees planted in four Brazilian biomes: Amazon, Caatinga, Cerrado, and Atlantic Forest. Thus, Farm claims that it has reforested and recovered more than three million square meters of land with 200 species of native trees, with an impact on the habitat of approximately 2,000 wild animals.
To this end, the reforestation program relies on important partners, including the NGO One Tree Planted (which focuses on global reforestation); the Dutch foundation Renature; the Society for Wildlife Research and Environmental Education (SPVS); the Institute for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Amazon (Idesam); the SOS Mata Atlântica Foundation; Tedesco Ecopark; the Ecological Research Institute (IPÊ); Assobio (an ONG with a focus on Cerrado regeneration); Anjos do Sertão (a company with the mission of reforesting the state of Piauí with cashew seedlings); and the Yawanawa indigenous people.
By the end of 2022, Farm expects to reach the mark of one million trees planted through its reforestation program. Actions such as this reinforce the company’s values and inspiration: cherishing Brazil’s biodiversity by translating it into colors, textures and scents.
Figures – In 2021, Farm’s gross revenue was close to BRL 900 million, with more than 5.3 million items of apparel sold. As such, the brand’s sustainability report offers a summary of the company’s environmental performance in that period: 10,724 tons of carbon offset; approximately BRL 91,000 invested in the protection of wild fauna; 7 million liters of water saved in the production of jeans; and 21.9 tons of textile leftovers donated.
Farm Global, in turn, accounted for 2,439 tons of carbon offset through carbon free shipping – this literally means carbon neutral cargo transport based on practices that produce zero carbon dioxide.
Tomorrow – The successful ‘A thousand trees a day, every day’ reforestation program was also followed by the launch of the ‘Trees of Tomorrow’ project, which is intended to build the first seedling nursery for the afforestation of urban areas in Rio de Janeiro. This is an initiative between Farm and the Parks and Gardens Foundation and the Rio de Janeiro Environment Department. A total of 10,000 seedlings are being grown in the nursery at Fazenda Modelo, in the Guaratiba district, West End of Rio de Janeiro. Once the seedlings are 1.5 meter tall, they will be planted in the city.
“More than new tree seedlings, we are planting an increasingly circular and responsible future every single day while giving nature back much of the inspiration it gives us,” says Katia Barros, creative director at Farm.
Carbon neutrality – The new seedlings prompted Farm to also neutralize the greenhouse gas emissions from its entire supply chain. From the creation of textile patterns to the delivery of apparel items, Farm guarantees that it has managed to offset all of its CO2 emissions as of 2021 and has become 100% carbon neutral.
Along these lines, the company recently launched ‘Farm na nuvem’ (Farm in the cloud), its first carbon neutral store – a 360-degree virtual space that simulates the experience of visiting a brick-and-mortar store.
Integrated actions – “We chose to have sustainability as the guiding principle of all our actions, and we’ve plunged head-on into this,” says Diego Francisco, Head of Marketing at Farm. He adds: “Taking care of the environment and the people who steer the business will be the driving force for the coming years.”
According to Francisco, Farm recently climbed up the Fashion Transparency Index, a report by the global movement Fashion Revolution. The report looked at how 50 major brands in the domestic market have been sharing information on their policies, practices and social and environmental impacts in its own operations and throughout its supply chains. In addition, Farm is striving to achieve the Company B Certification under the Brazil B System, which rates the company’s social and environmental performance during its operation.
Responsibility – Farm also claims that, with each collection launched, the proportion of its products made from responsibly sourced raw materials grows. Econyl®, for instance, is 100% regenerated nylon made from ocean and landfill waste. It has achieved the globally recognized Oeko-Tex certification from the International Association for Research and Testing in the Field of Textile Ecology, which guarantees that it contains no chemicals that are damaging for the skin or the planet.
Now, the Re-FARM jeans – launched in 2019 and one of the brand’s first product lines to embrace sustainable raw materials – is made from responsible Brazilian cotton, which is grown without the need for irrigation. According to Farm, production of Re-FARM jeans is less water- and energy-intensive if compared to the regular production of jeans. This is because biodegradable chemicals are used through the Green Screen process (international certification) for industrial washing applications. So, compared to the regular manufacture of jeans, the total impact of the Re-FARM jeans, from launch to the end of 2021, was as follows: in the production of 162,000 items, 6 million fewer liters of water were used, and 133,000 kWh of electricity were saved.
Circular Economy – To support circularity, Farm claims that since 2016 it has been investing in processes, partnerships and product lines that tap into fabrics in stock. Reverse logistics of apparel items has also been considered. For defective items, the brand has embraced upcycling, i.e., repurposing materials that would otherwise go to waste.
One of the partners in this effort is Rede Asta, a social business that transforms fabric scraps into raw materials for artisans. In 2021, 10 tons of fabric leftovers were donated, which benefited more than a hundred nano-entrepreneurs along the network.
Other partnerships include Oficina Muda, a multi-brand sustainable fashion upcycling company; Re-Farm + Re-roupa, a project that develops special collections from leftover clothing and accessories; and Enjoei, a second-hand products platform.
Additional actions – In 2019, Farm partnered with Vida Livre Institute, which runs projects for the rehabilitation and preservation of wild fauna. In 2021, the company donated more than BRL 27,000 for the implementation of actions such as the release of 20 blue-winged macaws and customization of their release boxes. Now, a partnership with the NGO Ampara Silvestre focuses on endangered species and supports reintroduction projects in order to balance biodiversity.
In 2021, Farm held a new edition of its Green Friday week, which has been providing funds for environmental causes since 2018. In the 2018 edition, funds were allocated to reforestation initiatives with SOS Mata Atlântica and Idesam. In 2019, the project collaborated with NGOs that run ocean cleaning initiatives. In 2020 and 2021, resources funded reforestation through the ‘Thousand Trees a day, every day’ project for the planting of bananas, pineapples and cashews based on agroforestry systems.
Diversity – Farm’s sustainability umbrella also includes the Re-Farm Cria project, which is intended to foster diversity in the brand. The project’s call for bids was launched in collaboration with the Precisa Ser Institute, which aims to strengthen collectives and non-profit organizations throughout the city of Rio de Janeiro and other Brazilian capitals. This action will allocate BRL 800,000 to initiatives by young people aged 15-29 who live in disadvantaged urban areas in Brazil, whose projects must fall under one of the following four pillars: Creativity, Education, Equity or Fashion.
All in all, the project had more than 300 entrants from all regions of the country. Selected projects include a training course on indigenous dressing in Goiás and a briefing circle and workshops for pregnant women in the metro area of Rio de Janeiro. Other successful entrants include a rap festival in Natal; a magazine on behavioral narratives for the black and LGBTQIA+ communities in São Paulo; and a photography workshop in Brasilia.
A quick interview with Diego Francisco, Head of Marketing at Farm
Green Industry – At Farm’s inception, did it already intend to foster practices to make its production and marketing more sustainable?
Diego Francisco – Farm was founded in 1998 and the brand grew as a great deal of discussions on sustainability were taking place. The year 2016 was a special milestone – we took a deep dive to make sense of our supply chain; improved the use of more responsible raw materials; and outlined the priorities for a turning point that would be meaningful and profound. We set internal goals and expanded our network of contacts. We devised projects for waste management, auditing and compliance of the entire supply chain; we incorporated certified raw materials.
IV – Would it be fair to say that Farm’s sustainability actions are inherently Brazilian, based on the notion of ’Brazilianness’ that the brand offers to the world, or are they universal?
DF – We adopt internationally recognized practices and seek partnerships at the global scale. In our international operation, each purchase leads to the planting of a tree, and offsetting via carbon credits is also an international initiative, as is planting – but we couldn’t afford to do without our sense of Brazilianness. Over the past year, we’ve resorted to agroforestry systems to plant bananas in collaboration with the Yawanawa people; cashews in the backlands of Piauí with the support of the Anjos do Sertão organization; and pineapples in partnership with the Institute for Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Amazon (Idesam) in northern Brazil.
IV – Which pathways would Farm recommend for the Brazil’s industrial sector in order to evolve towards a more socially and environmentally responsible world?
DF – Sustainability should be one of the pillars of any business and, once you make this as a priority, you are sure to go down an immensely deep and pleasant path. We are proud to see our sustainability ratings improve each year, getting to know each other more and discovering new ways of doing things.