I love Times Square. It is the most bustling street in New York and the cinematic epicenter of NYC tourism. Despite the vicious winter wind that literally slapped me across the face last February, I still enjoyed strolling down the street amidst a horde of tourists brimming with enthusiasm. Their excitement created a ripple effect that warmed me up. In addition, the high fashion stores at every corner is any shopper’s delight.
I must say I was partial to H&M. On my first day in NYC, the bitter cold numbed my ears and like arrows pierced through my jacket as if it were a flimsy dress. H&M was the nearest shop to me, I quickly walked through its warm entrance to buy more winter essentials when a bold advert attracted my Susty Vibe. H&M wanted customer’s old, worn-out clothes from any label with a 15% discount off the next purchase.
H&M is the first fashion company to launch a global garment collection initiative. No matter the brand or condition of the garments, in order to reduce waste and give old clothes a chance to a new life. H&M promotes sustainability probably more than any other fast-fashion brand. It produces a Conscious collection made using only sustainable and recycled materials, creates attractive campaigns to encourage garment recycling and has a voucher program offering discounts to those who donate their old clothes at its stores. It launched a major project intended to collect 1,000 tons of used clothes, called World Recycle Week “because far too much fashion ends up in landfills and to prevent tonnes of textiles thrown away with the household waste, when 95% of those clothes could have been re-worn or recycled.” This is necessary because looking good should do good too.
These collected clothes have three ways to live on:
Rewear – clothing that can be worn again will be sold as second-hand clothes. Reuse – old clothes and textiles will be turned into other products, such as cleaning cloths. Recycle – everything else is turned into textile fibres or other use such as insulation.
It is not possible to close the loop and recycle all types of materials into new textile fibres today. Material blends can be impossible to separate, while recycling cotton reduces its quality. Therefore any money made from this service is invested into research and innovation projects, to invent technological solutions needed to be able to fully reuse and recycle all textile fiber.
Some critics insinuate that these displays of devotion to the notion of sustainability are “greenwashing”. Due to the limitations of current technology, it would likely take H&M up to 12 years to use just 1,000 tons of clothing waste. Since, it produces that same volume of new clothes in a matter of days.
Nevertheless, it is safe to say that H&M is at least shouldering the burden of keeping clothings out of landfills. Since 2013, the company has collected more than 25,000 tons of textile waste. While it can’t recycle it all now, it is looking for ways to do so in the long-term. Last year, it partnered with a recycling technology company called Worn Again and also launched a contest looking for innovative ideas.
It is quite considerable that H&M increased the share of its raw materials that are sustainably sourced to 20% last year, up from 14% the year before. It reduced its total emissions 56% compared to 2014, and has proved that it will act to clean up the factories it sources from in China( a relief to all climate changers). The company has also employed over one million people in the countries that manufacture their products. It is indubitably clear that recycling creates more jobs than landfill and incineration.
The 15% discount maybe a smart bit of marketing, enough to prompt a new purchase, while still protecting the company’s profit margins. These vouchers are an inducement to encourage customers to recycle —an easy solution for the customer that today throws their old clothes in the garbage. H&M like mother nature does not want to throw away stuff. Even dead trees,insects, animals are quickly recycled by the system.
There’s no doubt that H&M is working hard to position itself as an industry leader in sustainability and reducing it’s environmental footprint.
No true fashion lover should like seeing clothes go to waste. We can also help to reduce waste production if we bear this in mind- Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do or Do without.