First Findings in Regenerative Lifestyle Initiative

Press release from E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and Half-Earth Project “Companies for a Half-Earth Future” partner Houdini, November 19, 2019.

Lifetime of apparel use, size of the wardrobe and what type of lifestyle apparel brands encourage are among the most important factors for long term global sustainability, indicate initial findings from Houdini’s Regenerative Lifestyle Initiative. These findings were presented at the “Companies for a Half-Earth Future” panel during Half-Earth Day in Berkeley, CA on the 7th of October.

The findings presented at Half-Earth Day included:

• The results from a recent survey of the average use of a Houdini Sportswear garment indicates that there is an opportunity for the apparel sector to shift to radically less resource-demanding business models. According to the findings, Houdini end-users’ estimate 10.2 years and 1287 times of use, comparable to the global average of 140 or 5-10 times of use, which is common in the western world*.

Image of a person overlooking the grass while it's foggy out.

• The direct impact of a garment can be described using a simple formula: Lifecycle impact of garment (LCA garment) * Size of the wardrobe (number of garments) * Lifetime of garment use.
How long a garment is used is the factor that differs the most in current set-ups. The second factor is the size of the wardrobe, which also has significant potential for improvement. The third, direct impact from garment production, is often the only factor taken into consideration.

• Current initiatives tend to focus almost exclusively on the production of a garment, not on the size of the wardrobe and how long the garments are used. This must change if we are to move beyond insufficient incremental improvements in the existing system and ensure long-term global sustainability.

• The garment industry has a significant global environmental impact, around 2-10% depending on area and system boundaries. However, equally important to address is the apparel industry’s impact on lifestyle, depending on what it promotes and encourages in society.

• When it comes to promoting lifestyles, this is where strategies in the apparel sector seem to be the most diverse, ranging from companies glorifying extremely resource-demanding lifestyles, to companies instead empowering people to lead lifestyles that radically reduce their resource outtake. Promoted resource-demanding lifestyles often represent climate impacts closer to 50 tonnes CO2 per capita (which can be used as a proxy for biodiversity impact), rather than the 1-2 tonnes CO2 per capita urged for in the 2018 IPCC Special Report “Global Warming of 1.5C”. and further emphasized in the report, “Behaviour change, public engagement and Net Zero” recently released by the Imperial College London.

• Design principles* to radically extend product lifetime has the potential to enable and inspire low impact lifestyles and are essential in order to significantly reduce the dire impacts of the apparel industry. In addition, brands have the opportunity to actively promote sustainable rather than impactful lifestyles.

E.O. Wilson’s Half-Earth Project and its “Companies for Half-Earth Future” initiative, which Houdini has incorporated, encourages companies to look beyond their everyday challenges and develop strategies for long-term prosperity. It adds a purpose beyond profit, provides guidance for business innovation and business-critical awareness of our life-support system in its entirety. Houdini Sportswear CEO, Eva Karlsson emphasizes,

“The abundant value in transitioning into a smart society reconnected to nature is clear. As a frontrunner, we are well on our way, but for a systemic shift, it will require every brand and everyone to partake. Through the Half-Earth Project, we can all join forces.”

Half-Earth is a call to protect half the Earth’s land and sea in order to manage sufficient habitat to reverse the species extinction crisis and ensure the long-term health and resilience of our planet. The Half-Earth Project is bringing this vision to life. With the Regenerative Lifestyle Initiative, Houdini has set out to assess how far our lifestyle solutions could take humanity towards the grand ambition of Half-Earth. As the author of Half-Earth, acclaimed biologist E.O. Wilson, has eloquently stated,

“We can share this precious planet of ours. All life could prosper. It would be humanity’s greatest achievement.”

The Regenerative Lifestyle Initiative is contributing to the “Companies for a Half-Earth Future” initiative, which was launched at Half-Earth Day, by the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation’s Half-Earth Project. Houdini is running this initiative in partnership with Cybercom, a digital consultancy company specializing in how digitalization can provide solutions to global challenges and drive business innovation. Niklas Flyborg, President and CEO Cybercom added,

“Houdini and Cybercom go beyond the conventions of business, taking on the task of understanding the full impact and potential of a product or service in order to drive business development for positive behavioral change. This is a critical shift for the business community.”

* The initial findings are based on an end-user survey, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation report, “A New Textiles Economy” and meta assessments of more than 20 studies using classical LCA assessments, while expanding the scope to also include the impacts of the apparel industry on the rest of society. During the fall Houdini with partners will share additional findings, arrange workshops and gather feedback to review and refine the initial findings.

* Houdini design principles:
– Less is more. Versatile performance and minimalist construction.
– Holistic comfort. Embracing individuality and all senses. Body, mind and soul.
– Built to last. Both in terms of quality and style.

* Houdini design checklist:
– Does this product deserve existence?
– Will it last long enough?
– Is it versatile enough?
– Will it age with beauty?
– Nothing added that isn’t needed, right?
– Will it be easy to repair?
– Is it durable enough for our rental program?
– Does it have a next-life solution?

For further information, please contact:
Eva Karlsson, CEO, Houdini, +46 8 557 746 40
Mia Grankvist, Communications, Houdini, +46 8 557 746 40
Niklas Flyborg, President and CEO Cybercom, +46 70 594 96 78
Chris Heltne, Vice President of Engagement, E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation and the Half-Earth Project,, +1 (984) 219-2279

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