H&M announces clothing collection initiave to reduce textile waste

(Michelle Williams supports H&M’s eco initiatives. She’s seen here wearing a dress from their Conscious Collection). The life of fashion


(Michelle Williams supports H&M’s eco initiatives. She’s seen here wearing a dress from their Conscious Collection).

The life of fashion trends these days is shorter than ever, and for those of use who like to keep up, the only way to stay on top of the trends while maintaining space in our closets is to both shop and purge frequently’ It’s out with the old, to make room for the new! (I’m certainly guilty of this exercise in excess: This month, I’ve made a pre-New Year’s resolution to purge the contents of my bulging closet and dresser drawers.)

‘Fast fashion’ retailers dishing out the latest trends at low prices make refreshing your style from one season to the next accessible and affordable’ but the desire for constant trend turnover and a revolving door wardrobe isn’t exactly sustainable, or environmentally friendly.

So, here’s some good news:

Yesterday, retail giant H&M announced a new initiative aimed at doing their part to reduce the impact their fast-fashion business has on the environment. In February 2013, H&M will launch a clothing collection program that will have consumers bring their worn-out or unwanted garments to H&M stores for recycling. In return, consumers will receive a $5 voucher to use towards their next H&M purchase of $30 or more.

H&M Canada Communication Representative Emily Scarlett says the company’s goals for this program are ‘to avoid waste and minimize the waste that goes to landfill.’ According to the press release on the program, ‘every year tonnes 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.’ Says Scarlett, ‘We want find a solution for reusing and recycling all textile fiber for new use.’

Curious what happens to your old clothes after you bring them to the store? Bins of clothing are collected by H&M’s program partner I:Collect, and brought to a plant for sorting. Each garment is evaluated against over 400 different criteria, and is classified as follows:

Re-wear: Clothing that is still suitable for wear is marketed worldwide as second hand goods.

Re-use: Textiles that are no longer suitable for wear are converted into other products such as cleaning cloths.

Recycle: Textiles that can’t be re-used are used to manufacture such as damping and insulating materials in the auto industry.

Energy: When rewear, reuse and recycle are not options, textiles are used to produce energy.

This announcement comes hot on the heels of a similarly intentioned one earlier this month from another cheap & chic fashion retailer, Zara. Following pressure from Greenpeace, Zara’s parent company Inditex has committed to a ‘detox’ which will overhaul their manufacturing processes with the aim of eliminating all discharge of hazardous from its supply chain and products by 2020, and have posted a multistep action plan for achieving this publicly on their website.

Do you make fashion purchases with sustainability and environmental impact in mind? What do you do with your old clothing when you can’t (or don’t want to) wear it any longer?