Marks & Spencer’s support for sustainable programs and humanitarian needs often go together. Take its popular Shwopping initiative for example, which started last year and is still going strong in the UK. Donated clothing not only gets a second life through Oxfam (throughout the world, and through a variety of different uses), but help keep the older items out of the landfill, thus decreasing the impact on the environment.
The company’s latest eco-commitment has a similar humanitarian bent. The company recently announced that it plans to join the United Nations carbon offset pilot project and will be funding the cost of low-carbon stoves to Bangladesh. The stoves, which will be constructed by Bangladeshi businesses will go to families as an alternative, low-carbon cooking source that doesn’t rely upon local wood or coal sources.
The project will also be independently assessed to ensure that it meets the expectations of a Gold standard carbon offsetting program
And here’s the humanitarian aspect of this project: by changing the type of fuel source that the family uses, the UN aims to not only curb air pollution but lower child deaths.
The World Health Organization estimates that of the 49,000 people that die yearly due to indoor cooking facilities, almost three-quarter are children. The deaths are largely attributed to toxicity from indoor cooking facilities that are either being used improperly or in areas that aren’t sufficiently ventilated. Pollution from these cooking sources is also a major problem in Bangladesh, where deforestation is taking a major toll on the environment.
The UN program is one of several directed at both improving the standard of living and the environmental impact in developing nations. Marks and Spencer says it expects to fund 400,000 new cook stoves. In the process, it will also be providing jobs for about 150 people in Bangladesh.
UNICEF President Paddy Ashdown said Marks and Spencer’s announcement was “a groundbreaking example of our corporate partners working hand in hand with us to deliver real benefits to children’s lives.”
“Marks and Spencer led the world in becoming the first major retailer to go carbon neutral,” noted Jonathan Porritt, co-founder of Forum for the Future. “[It] has now reinforced that leadership by supporting UNICEF’s new carbon offset project in Bangladesh.”
Jan Lee is a former news editor and award-winning editorial writer whose non-fiction and fiction have been published in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and Australia. Her articles and posts can be found on TriplePundit, JustMeans, and her blog, The Multicultural Jew, as well as other publications. She currently splits her residence between the city of Vancouver, British Columbia and the rural farmlands of Idaho.