While praised for retailing well designed, affordable apparel, H&M doesn't exactly have the best track record when it comes to sustainable business practices. In 2010, the clothing giant was accused of throwing away garments en masse that were never sold, and earlier this year they were accused of operating sweat-shop like conditions at one of their sub contractor's factories in Cambodia.
Whether an effort to redeem their tarnished reputation, or just good marketing, the Swedish-based company has come up with a "Global Clothes Collecting Initiative." The first fashion label to launch such a campaign, the idea is that customers can bring clothing from any brand, in any condition to one of their 48 stores around the world to recycle. The effort is intended to help consumers cut down on their own textile-waste. In exchange, H&M's press release outlines, "the customer will receive a voucher for each bag brought. The collected clothes are then handled by H&M’s partner, I:Collect, which provides the infrastructure in which consumer goods are repeatedly reprocessed and made available for new use.
They go on to state:
Every year tons of textiles are thrown out with domestic waste and end up in landfill. As much as 95 percent of these clothes could be used again; re-worn, reused or recycled - depending on the state of the garment. Long-term, H&M wants to reduce the environmental impact of garments throughout the lifecycle and create a closed loop for textile fibres.
In some cities it's hard to find a convenient place to recycle or donate clothes. So regardless of whether H&M's motives are pure, this new program offers an easy way to find a clothing drop off point in many cities around the world. And a step in the right direction that we'd like to see more retailers follow.
Image courtesy of H&M