What is the TRR Sustainability Calculator and what is the methodology behind it?

The RealReal Sustainability Calculator 

The RealReal (TRR) Sustainability Calculator is a custom tool developed to measure the  greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and water footprint reduction of consignment compared to producing new products. The TRR Sustainability Calculator launched in 2018 and originally quantified the environmental savings of consigned suiting, pants, dresses, tops, knitwear, jackets, and outerwear. In 2022, the calculator was expanded to include the environmental savings of denim, kids’ clothing, handbags, fine jewelry and watches.

You can see the TRR Sustainability Calculator in action for individual items on many of our product pages and on the My Sales page for consignors. Click here to see how much carbon and water our members have helped to save by shopping and selling with The RealReal.

The Methodology  

The RealReal teamed up with leading environmental consultants Shift Advantage, Inc., and Brown and Wilmanns Environmental, LLC, to build a tool for calculating the environmental benefit of consignment. These calculations are particularly complex, especially for a company like The RealReal that doesn’t manufacture its own products, but sells consigned products including thousands of items from many brands, made of various materials, and ranging in size and weight. 

To address the complexities of calculating the environmental benefits of consignment:

  • • Shift Advantage, Inc. and Brown and Wilmanns Environmental, LLC, created environmental impact estimates for The RealReal’s most common materials primarily based on ecoinvent data comprising various countries of origin. 
  • • These included impact estimates for raw materials like cotton, silk, and nylon for apparel and handbags, as well as common materials like gold and silver used in jewelry and watches.
  • • TRR used these estimates to develop custom combinations that could be applied across an enormous spectrum of products and materials—for example, a dress made of both cotton and nylon where the percentages of each are accurately factored into environmental impact.
  • • TRR accounted for the weight of items, a critical factor since, for example, a sweater uses less wool than a coat. To create representative samples for apparel, TRR weighed a mix of items in different sizes from various brands. For jewelry, TRR uses exact weights since they are already captured in product information. 
  • • Finally, TRR applies the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) Benefits of Reuse Case Study displacement rate of 33%, conservatively assuming that for every three items consigned, one is not produced new.

A stakeholder review of the methodology and assumptions for calculating the environmental benefit of consignment products was conducted in March 2018. Stakeholder feedback included clarification on data sources and scope, environmental impacts to include, and how to report data. All feedback was considered and, where feasible, integrated into the final tool and methodology.

We are always working to incorporate more industry learnings and refine our calculations to make the TRR Sustainability Calculator more accurate, which may result in changes in stated item impacts over time. Learn even more about the methodology of the TRR Sustainability Calculator here.


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