Fast fashion rightfully receives criticism for being hard on the environment. But some fast fashion can be environmentally friendly, as H&M is keen to prove with a new product roll-out.
Next month, the clothing retailer will introduce new denim pieces made using recycled cotton. The company will introduce a total of 16 new denim styles that incorporate recycled cotton from textiles collected in through its in-store Garment Collecting Initiative. The denim pieces include men’s, women’s and child’s styles, and they will be available in stores worldwide and online.
There is a very good reason why H&M incorporates recycled cotton into its styles. It’s seeking to create a closed loop for the textiles it manufactures. Currently, H&M blends in about 20 percent recycled fibers into its clothes. The goal is to eventually get as close to 100 percent as possible.
H&M’s approach to closing the loop is simple and engages the customer. In every store, the company has a Garment Collecting program. It is the first fashion company to launch a global garment collection initiative. The way it works is that any customer can bring unwanted clothes in, and H&M will recycle them. In other words, you can give new life to that old pair of jeans you considered chucking in the garbage. Remember the old adage your grandparents would say? Well, it’s true: Waste not, want not.
“Creating a closed loop for textiles, in which unwanted clothes can be recycled into new ones, will not only minimize textile waste, but also significantly reduce the need for virgin resources as well as other impacts fashion has on our planet,“ said Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of H&M, in a statement.
H&M estimates that up to 95 percent of the thousands of tons of textiles thrown away every year could be either re-worked or recycled. In the U.S. alone about 12.4 million tons of non-durable textiles were generated in 2013, making up 4.9 percent of total municipal solid waste (MSW), according to the EPA. The recovery rate in 2013 for all non-durable textiles was only 14.8 percent.
In a recent report from the Rainforest Action Network on the impact of the fashion industry on the environment, namely deforestation, H&M received recognition. The report mentioned that a number of brands have taken action and have public commitments to protect forests. H&M is one of those brands.
In April 2014, H&M announced its commitment to stop sourcing fabrics derived from endangered forests and promote the use of fabrics from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified plantations, or FSC-certified forest found outside endangered and ancient forests.
Image credit: H&M