Analysis: How Zalando is shifting the sustainability gears

Zalando Berlin HQ

Zalando invited Retail Week to its head office in Berlin to unveil an ambitious sustainability strategy as the international fashion etailer changes its model to reflect contemporary consumer concerns.

Standing up and admitting you are part of the sustainability problem is brave – but that is exactly what Zalando co-founder and chief executive Rubin Ritter did.

Flights to Japan, living in an old-build apartment and his choice of clothes have all contributed to Ritter’s yearly carbon footprint of 40 tonnes – the EU average is 12 tonnes per person and the global average is just two tonnes. Ironically, he pointed out, “the people who are aware of climate change are the worst offenders”.

Because the fashion industry accounts for around 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, Ritter also knows Zalando is a contributor to the climate crisis, which has prompted a global uprising, epitomised by Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion’s protests. He has decided to do something about it.

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