Whether you love the clothes made by Swedish retailer H&M or not, the fact remains that the company became the largest buyer of organic cotton in the fall of 2011, surpassing Walmart. H&M launched its first collection of clothing made from organic or recycled materials in 2010, and called it the Garden Collection. A year later, the company launched the Conscious Collection, also made from organic or recycled materials. H&M recently announced it will launch its 2012 H&M Glamour Collection, part of its Conscious Collection line on April 12 at 100 of its stores worldwide.
The new line is made from organic cotton, hemp and recycled polyester featuring “red-carpet looks,” or so says a press release. “The collection showcases the diversity of what is now possible in greener fashion, with outfits in different styles reflecting the variety of today’s red carpet fashion.”
H&M committed to using only cotton “made from more sustainable sources by 2020,” in its 2010 CSR report. The report laid out what H&M is doing to meet that goal, including educating farmers on sustainable practices. In 2010, the company educated 68,000 cotton farmers on sustainable farming practices through its Better Cotton Initiative.
The report also mentioned the progress the company is making to reach its goal. H&M used 15,000 tons of organic cotton to make its products in 2010, which represents a 77 percent increase from 2009, and in 2009 H&M ranked number five for its organic cotton use. That’s good progress considering that a scant two years later the company became the world’s largest buyer of organic cotton.
H&M made headlines several times for its unsustainable practices
H&M has had it fair share of criticism, proving that the road to sustainability, like the road to hell, is often paved with good intentions. In 2010, the New York Times reported that bags of discarded and destroyed H&M clothes were found in New York City. That expose prompted H&M to release a statement vowing that they would not destroy and discard their unsold clothing, but will donate them to charity.
A year later, a Greenpeace campaign aimed to get H&M to commit to eliminate discharging hazardous chemicals. The clothing retailer responded to the torrent of social media support for the campaign, mostly via Twitter and Facebook, by committing to eliminate discharges of all hazardous chemicals across all supply chains, and entire product life-cycle by 2020. In addition, H&M agreed to publicize information about chemicals being released from its suppliers’ factories.
Photo from H&M website