Sustainability in the Global Textile Industry – H&M’s Garment Collection Initiative
Fashion is a major industry in today’s consumer culture and economy. However, there is a large disconnect between the fashion industry and the ‘green’ movement occurring in consumers. How do we begin to bridge the gap between these two seemingly different concepts?
Introducing H&M, a Sweden-based fashion company who has recently been making great strides in sustainability in fashion. H&M Conscious is a subsector that regularly has Conscious Actions as company goals for a better fashion future, the most recent being their new garment collecting program. Consumers discard thousands of tonnes of textiles per year. 95% could have been recycled.
H&M is the first fashion company to launch a global garment collection initiative. Their goals include to reduce waste (aiming to send zero textile waste to landfill) and to promote a closed loop resource process (20% of fibers able to be blended into new yarns with no loss of quality and longevity).
Other concerns that they address are design, fabric processing, raw materials, garment production, recyline and transport. For example, they recently partnered with WWF to promote responsible water usage in both raw material processing and the way organic cotton farmers water their fields. They aim to use only organic or recycled cotton in their products by 2020. H&M’s Conscious Denim collection uses on average 56% less water and 58% less energy than other denim, while also maintaining a strict Chemical Restriction list, limiting the use of dangerous and unnecessary chemicals in the raw material processing phase.
H&M has expanded substantially in recent years to a global market of 59 countries and 36,000 stores. In order to remain a high-functioning company, prices must remain low, but profitability must remain high. In order to do this efficiently (and without breaking any labor or material laws), they have devised various methods to offset costs and raise consumer awareness. For economic sustainability, H&M uses supply chain transparency, carefully selecting responsible partners, has created 56,000 additional jobs in the last 5 years, and founded H&M Conscious Foundation (non-profit to benefit stable markets, human rights and strengthen communities).
Check out more on their website.