During the COVID-19 pandemic, Parsons Paris MA Fashion Studies students ’19 alumni Clarabeth Smith, Emma Shouse, and Olivia Johnston realized they needed a creative outlet and began brainstorming ideas for bringing more environmental awareness to the
fashion industry, which is responsible for an enormous amount of waste and carbon emissions. Inspired by airlines’ use of carbon offsets, they wondered if a similar concept could be applied to fashion.
After 18 months of development, they launched CarbonCart in spring 2022. First released on the global commerce site Shopify, the CarbonCart app is available free of charge to online shopping platforms. At checkout, with the click of a button, shoppers
can pay a nominal fee to offset the carbon footprint of their purchases. The offsets are based on an extensive hand-picked database of products and the environmental costs associated with their materials and production, calculated from original research
by the CarbonCart team. Proceeds from the offset fees are sent to climate organizations whose work is confirmed by the global nonprofit Gold Standard to support the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
“We wanted to deconstruct the notion that it takes considerable amounts of money and resources to make a difference,” says Johnston. While recognizing that the cost of sustainable fashion is beyond the reach of most consumers, she adds, “Our app makes online shopping in an environmentally conscious way accessible to everyone.”
The trio credit their Parsons Paris experience with laying the groundwork for their endeavor. Faculty encouraged them to think critically about the fashion industry—particularly fast fashion—and the environmental damage it continues to cause. “Our instructors empowered us to pursue what we’re passionate about and apply that passion out in the world,” says Smith.
Smith, Shouse, and Johnston hope their product will spur consumers to think more about the choices they make. “Everyone can make a difference, and all the little differences add up,” says Shouse.