Trove’s Sustainability Philosophy

We’re on a mission to innovate beyond the take, make, and dispose model that is inherent to our modern retail model. Trove powers trade-in and resale for the world’s most beloved brands. In doing so, we keep high quality clothing in use for longer and inspire and empower people to think circularly when making their purchases.

What motivates us at Trove?

In recent years, a spotlight has been cast on the fashion industry’s use of resources to make fashion that is worn and discarded faster than ever before. This has a negative impact on the earth – and on humankind. According to a joint report by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation and The Circular Fibres Initiative:

That might read like a scare tactic but when it comes down to it: this terrifying fact is what motivates us to do what we do. At our core, we are obsessed with finding solutions to this problem. When we distill down what we’re doing, it’s as simple as this: we act as stewards of our planet and we see no reason why we shouldn’t also be stewards of our clothing.

Stewardship & Shifting
Consumer Perspectives

We not only want to bring stewardship back into the fashion, retail, and recommerce vernacular, we want to use the principles of stewardship to help us to shift consumer behavior. Selling used items is what we do best but we recognize that consumers buying used instead of new is only one part of the equation when it comes to shifting the system.

We believe that most consumers will buy a mix of new and used items – and we think that’s great. Where we aim to impact consumers is in how they think about their purchases and in how they care for their items. Every item, whether it was purchased new or used, has the potential to end up back in the supply chain as a used item. We’ll know we’ve done our job when consumers consider that their garments, whether new or used, have the potential to have a future life in another closet. Just like we take care of our homes knowing that there will be another owner after us – our jackets and sweaters and shoes should be no different.

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030

There’s a lot of work for our global community to do and we are aligning our efforts, internally & externally, with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Below, we share our progress towards these goals:

Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Reduced Inequalities

Responsible Consumption & Production

Transitioning to
a Circular Economy

We believe that the first step towards thinking circularly is for brands and retailers to own their secondhand channels. With Trove’s white-label capabilities, our partners reap the rewards of managing their own resale market by accelerating long-term revenue, increasing customer loyalty, gaining new customers, and boosting store and site traffic. Imagine: growing your business and meeting your sustainability goals without equal growth of your carbon footprint.

Trove helps brands to design, build, and execute their circular shopping experience and as a result, brands are stepping into their power to drive change and champion the circular economy.

By extending the life of high-quality garments and bringing used items back into the marketplace, circular shopping helps ensure that the resources that went into the production of each garment are not wasted. Owning your own resale channel will help you to:

Measuring Your Impact

Used items have already been produced – raw materials were extracted, water was used, greenhouse gases were emitted – the carbon footprint was already “spent.” While we can’t undo the manufacturing of that item, we can choose to make sure those resources aren’t wasted. When brands and retailers choose to build recommerce into their business model, they are not only making a choice, they are asserting their values and making a commitment to extend the useful life of items and increase resource utilization.

We’ve developed the Trove Reuse Impact Calculation that helps us determine the average carbon savings of buying a used item instead of a new item. We are motivated to communicate our methodology because we believe that when customers and brands are armed with the knowledge behind the “why” of their choices, meaningful shifts start to occur. Let’s start by defining a few key terms:

CO2e, or carbon dioxide equivalent, is a standardized unit that allows us to talk about all of the greenhouse gases that something contributes to global warming. By thinking about each of the greenhouse gases in terms of how much carbon dioxide would create the same amount of global warming, we can come up with a single number, a carbon footprint, expressed as CO2e.
The carbon footprint of an item represents the greenhouse gas emissions associated with producing that item: everything from extracting the raw materials to assembling the final product, and even getting it to the customer. We’ll refer to this as the new item carbon footprint because all new items have to go through each of these steps. While smaller than the carbon footprint of making a new item, there are activities associated with making an item available for resale which generate an additive carbon footprint. To calculate the carbon footprint of getting a used item back into the marketplace, we look at three factors: the item’s condition, the carbon footprint of resale operations, and industry data that shows that every used purchase does not completely replace a new purchase.
All the items that arrive at our warehouse are thoroughly inspected to assess their functionality and condition, and at the end of that inspection are assigned one of our standardized condition grades. We’ve mapped each grade to an approximate portion of usable life left to try to understand how much use a customer can get out of the item. We estimate that most of the time, items still have about 80-95% of usable life left in them when they’re resold. We call this the item condition factor.
After an item has been inspected, we clean or repair it as needed, and then hold the item in our warehouse until it’s ready to be shipped off to its new home. We add all of the environmental impacts from this process together to get the ‘cost’ of putting an item back into use. We call this the resale processing footprint.
Does buying something used really replace the purchase of something new? The answer, of course, is: it depends! According to current industry data, not every used purchase completely replaces a new purchase. In fact, a used purchase only replaces a new purchase 60% of the time. And the other 40% of the time, a consumer buying used buys both a used item and a new item. Displacement refers to the 60% of the time that a used purchase replaces a new purchase.

“What are the average carbon savings from buying used instead of new?”

Applying the calculation:

First, let’s take the new item carbon footprint: as a reminder, this is just the carbon footprint of manufacturing the item and getting it to the customer. You’ll see numbers displayed in the images below: these are example numbers which will help illustrate how each of the variables comes together.

Next, to calculate the total carbon footprint from buying used (the resale item carbon footprint) we start with the resale processing footprint and account for two things: 1) displacement and 2) purchase frequency.

To account for the 40% of the time that a used purchase does not directly displace a purchase (reminder: average displacement rate = 60%) we add in 40% of a new item carbon footprint.

resale processing footprint + (40% of a new item carbon footprint)

We then divide that by the item condition factor to account for the fact that your purchase frequency increases, even if only slightly, when you buy used.

This gives us our resale item carbon footprint.

Putting it all together, we take the new item carbon footprint, subtract the resale item carbon footprint, and divide by the new item carbon footprint. This gives us the average percent carbon savings from buying used.

First, we do recognize that some consumers will fit into this “average” category while others will not. There are some consumers who are focused on and committed to purchasing used instead of new and those customers will not be represented when we use the average displacement rate in our calculation. If we were to adjust the displacement rate for their actual purchasing habits, they would realize a higher percentage of savings because they are displacing a higher number of new purchases than the average consumer.

Second, while the current industry standard displacement research includes a variety of product categories, there are some categories that were not represented in the research. We recognize that some product categories are more or less likely to completely offset a purchase and we are committed to continuing to build rigor into our data as more and more research is published.

  • This calculation is not a carbon attribution model: the calculation is not trying to attribute responsibility for an item’s lifecycle, it is instead looking at the savings at the point of sale.
  • When a customer is making the decision between buying used vs buying new, customers compare the same or very similar items, meaning the product footprints we use are the same.
  • We assume that customers will use their used items in the same way as they would use a new item (in terms of severity, activity type, etc.).
  • More durable items will deteriorate in condition at a slower rate than less durable items.
  • Once the entire use of an item is used up, a consumer will purchase another (similar) item.
  • Our partner program savings to date are calculated using the latest industry research which assumes a 60% displacement rate across a range of product categories. The calculation was designed to be flexible to account for updated estimates of displacement rates.

For partners who do not have their own comprehensive life cycle assessment data, we partnered with Brown & Wilmanns Environmental, LLC. to develop a methodology to calculate new item carbon footprints. We utilized the ecoinvent v3.6 life cycle assessment database and modeled new item carbon footprints using OpenLCA 1.10.3 life cycle assessment software. Global warming potential values were calculated using the ReCiPe 2016 midpoint (H) life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) methodology for all fibers and processes modeled in OpenLCA.

For partners who have their own life cycle assessment (LCA) data, we are delighted to utilize brand & retailer LCA data as we calculate the carbon savings from reuse at both the purchase and the program level.

Next Best Use

We choose to think in the affirmative when it comes to unsellable items. Every item is, after all, a collection of resources – and we believe in protecting and utilizing resources to the best of our ability.

Along those lines, we’re renaming what some folks in the industry call ‘end of life’ solutions, acknowledging that with the right motivation, the industry can and will shift away from ‘cradle to grave’ thinking and towards ‘cradle to cradle’ design, production, and transactions.

We’re committed to making sellable a many items as we possibly can but there are invariably some items that cannot be sold due to their condition. What happens then? We are developing a network of ‘next best use’ vendors to partner with to find the next highest alternative use for items that cannot be sold on our partner’s resale sites.

We’re in the process of launching pilot projects with our partners to determine the best path for their unsellable inventory. Check back soon to see who we’re partnering with!

Benefit Corp & B Corp

In addition to incorporating as a Benefit Corporation, we are under review by B Labs to become a certified B Corp. We’ll be sure to update here when we’ve completed our review.

Proudly partnered with: