Climate change is a pressing issue causing more and more social pressure. With more people becoming more aware of their affects on the environment, companies are also taking steps to increase their awareness. We all play our part in taking climate action, but greater action is needed from large companies. Retail is often criticised for using 'fast fashion' or not disposing materials in the most ethical way, but there are few companies that do take a more ethical approach.
H&M are one of the leading clothing retail company's in the UK and one of the key-leaders in sustainability. Operating over 265 UK stores, H&M ensure they take a conscious approach to sustainability and aim to help the climate through doing this.
They ensure that they are sustainable by:
Introducing a 'Conscious Collection' of clothing that features clothes made from sustainably sourced materials
Offering in-store drop-off points for recycling
Aiming to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030
Offering garments made from organic cotton
Although H&M are changing their approach, they are still part of the fast fashion industry which is responsible for high carbon emissions and unethical conditions for workers. It's attractive that H&M are taking such a big step to ensure they're more sustainable however at what cost?
It is difficult for a company as big as H&M to be 100% sustainable and environmentally conscious however they need to be sure they can achieve their goals without causing more environmental damage in the process.
Patagonia shine when it comes to taking climate action, especially when it comes to the introduction of their lifetime return and repair program for all products which reduces waste and extends the product life cycle. They also use mostly recycled materials and pledge to go carbon neutral by 2025. Since 2025 is around the corner, it may be unlikely that this goal will be achieved but be sure to look out if it is!
This outdoor clothing brand is well-known for taking care of the environment through reducing harmful environmental effects, however all is not as it seems. Patagonia often use animal testing in the supply chain which goes against many ethical practices and in the long-term may affect the ecosystem around us. It would be better if Patagonia researched alternatively methods of production without putting animals at risk.
When I started researching into companies, I didn't expect to find M&S to be as climate conscious as they are and I'm pleasantly surprised. Though M&S sells food, clothing and homeware items, they take a positive approach to the selling, disposing and marketing of their clothing products and here's how:
Shwopping Partnership with Oxfam which recycled 30 million garments and raising £21 million for those in extreme poverty
They source 100% of their cotton from sustainable resources
Focusing on how to improve the sustainability in the leather industry
Zero clothing waste is sent to landfills and instead is donated to Newlife and Oxfam which reduces the amount of GHG's in the atmosphere
Stores have been made 40% more energy efficient to reduce energy usage
It's fair to say that out of this list, M&S is probably the more climate friendly retail company. Although they may be seen as a member of the fast-fashion industry, they take a very impressive approach to climate change and ensure that they can reduce waste and energy usage where possible. If you're looking for a climate conscious high-street brand to shop at M&S is the place to go!
Taking a step away from clothing, The BodyShop is well-known for been keen players when it comes to sustainability and looking after the environment. In 2019, the company launched a refill scheme in 2 tester stores where customers can refill any bottles they may have, which in effect reduces overall wastage. Now, the company aims to fully launch this scheme across 500 stores by the end of this year.
It doesn't stop there. 68% of all their packaging can be recycled including mostly all their PET bottles being made from 100% recycled materials. Though 68% is quite low, The BodyShop pledge that by 2025 all their body and haircare bottles will be fully recyclable. They also pledge for 100% of their packaging to be recyclabe, reusable and compostable by 2025. Not to mention their products are 100% vegan!
Jeans. Jeans. Jeans. Whether you always love to wear or not we all have them! This massive jean's company has taken a change in recent years to becoming more climate conscious and have made a series of pledges (by 2025):
To use 100% sustainable sourced cotton
Use 100% renewable energy in all facilities
A 40% reduction in GHG emissions in the supply chain
Have a 50% reduction in water consumption in manufacturing (by 2030)
At the moment, Levi's have launched sustainable clothing collections such as the Levi's Sustainable range for women, however the company has faced backlash for greenwashing. Greenwashing is when a company claims to be environmentally conscious in practice however they do the complete opposite. Levi's is often responsible for pollution especially in their Chinese factories as 99% of their pollution is from its supply chain.
Currently, the brand isn't performing as well as others when it comes to taking climate action however there is hope for the future that they may change their practices and become more environmentally conscious in the process.
And to conclude....
These companies are great places to shop for you to take a more sustainable approach to shopping however if you're looking to go the extra mile, shopping in 2nd hand clothing stores (such as Depop or Vinted) is a great place to go. I, personally, am guilty of shopping in the fast fashion industry for ease however with more and more sustainable companies becoming available I am continually changing my shopping habits. It may be challenging at first, but we all have a part to play in our environment, so why not start now.