Putting the CSR into fashion.
by Derek Linsell on 26/04/2012
As the third most destructive, environmentally damaging industry in the world, shouldn’t fashion be just as environmentally friendly as the next industry? Now, it is.
Huge names in the fashion world such as Stella McCartney, Marc Jacobs, American Apparel and even Bono (who even knew he designed clothes!) are doing their part in changing the carbon footprint from this $300 billion a year industry.
H&M’s 10th annual CSR report has been buzzing in fashion networks, showing off their further commitment to being a ‘conscious’ fashion label. From the report noticeable areas of change are seen from the highlights, including – 2.4 million pairs of shoes made with water-based adhesives, using organic hemp as an alternative fabric and saving 300,000,000 litres of water from denim production.
In fact they aim to be using only sustainable cotton by 2020, but have been open about the challenges they face to getting there.
H&M CEO Karl-Johan Persson says in the report, “We are proud of all the achievements we have made during the year. But we are also aware of the challenges ahead. We strive to be as transparent as possible about the progress we make.”
But it doesn’t have to be these mass, global companies doing all the good. For example, Country Road in both Australia and New Zealand has a sensational sustainability guide for the company and has been in action since 2008.
They have connections with Red Cross that make huge impacts for both organisations. Collect any unwanted Country Road clothing or accessories, take it to any Red Cross store and receive a $10 voucher towards the next purchase over $50 at Country Road. Isn’t that a good motivator not to just throw our clothes away!
This is also seen through The Salvation Army (TSA) in their Adult rehabilitation programs and thrift stores. These programs provide an environment for people to regain self-esteem and valuable vocational skills. Anyone purchasing recycled clothes from TSA stores, not only prevents the waste going into landfills but helping others reclaim their lives and helping families.
There are even such events as ‘Eco-Fashion Week’ recently held in Vancouver. The three-day event brings in more than 2,000 global VIP’s, buyers, guests, designers and many more.
And they are not just there for the fashion shows, EFW promotes speaker seminars and industry panels which propel all the aspects of the fashion industry, but into an ecological society and culture.
ASOS, one of the top online fashion retailers attracting nearly 18.5 million visitors a month, has also just recently announced its certification as a CarbonNeutral company. They are the first retailer to achieve this status under The CarbonNeutral Protocol, which is the international standard for continuing integrity and quality certification programs.
Due to their online presence, ASOS has less of an environmental impact compared to other retailers, and their main source of emissions is from packaging and customer delivery. The CO² emissions from ASOS’ energy use, business travel, non-recyclable waste, deliveries and commuting has been measured and reduced to net zero, through verified carbon offset projects.
They are also involved with numerous small charities throughout the UK including, The Prince’s Trust, Udayan Care, Oxfam and Retail Trust. As the business continues to grow, ASOS will add further initiatives to their CSR program and further its ongoing environmental policy.
Finally, a completely new initiative from London College of Fashion who have teamed up with clothing giant, Marks and Spencer to create the UK’s first Sustainable Fashion Lab. The project gives customers an insight into the world of fashion and even allows them to try designing some of their own pieces.
By taking in unwanted clothes, each item is assessed for potential use and then can be reused and transformed or taken to a local Oxfam shop. This fashion lab is happening from 26 April to 9 May in East London.
All of these changes are what can begin to make fashion sustainable and affordable for many average citizens. Let’s hope this year and for years to come, companies are open about their promises and make real changes in this ever-growing industry.