Let’s just take a moment to have a really close look at H&M and their CONSCIOUS range. Is H&M a conscious, ethical supplier or is it just another ‘trend’ to get more of their target market shopping in H&M!?
So, what does H&M say?
“We believe in a better fashion future – one where fashion both looks good and does good. Conscious is our plan for making this future come true. It’s built on seven commitments, each with hundreds of Conscious Actions. Through these actions – big and small, short and long term – we’ll create a better fashion future.
- Provide fashion for conscious customers
- Choose and reward responsible partners
- Be ethical
- Be climate smart
- Reduce, reuse, recycle
- Use natural resources responsibly
- Strengthen communities“
What does everyone else have to say about it?
Since it’s launch in 2013 the Conscious range seems to have been a big hit with celebs. However, as with anything, someone is there to pick holes in the fabric. Marc Bain on Quartz writes that H&M’s sustainability reports makes it “clear that H&M is doing a good deal to lessen its impact, a close read of the report also highlights the ways that goal and fast fashion are inherently at odds.” He’s talking about ‘fast fashion’, as Shannon Whitehead of Factory 45 wrote in the Huffington Post “each week, H&M will debut a new “season” of trends catapulting the old fashion calendar of 2-4 seasons per year into 52 micro-seasons.”
H&M is part of The Better Cotton Initiative and are clearly attempting to bring conscious consumerism to the mainstream. However, Shannon argues, are they missing the point by spewing out new fashion ideals every week and effectively encouraging a throw-away society: “If H&M was truly serious about sustainability, then it would focus on changing its business model — not on making more clothing under the guise of a feel-good name.”
I completely agree that fast-fashion is not sustainable, Shannon is right to point this out. However, the big retailers will always push out more and more products – I believe it is up to the consumer to be conscious.
Are we going to recycle and reuse? Are we going to buy new clothes every week of the year? And if we do, does that mean we throw out our old clothes, put them straight into landfill? Or do we donate them to charity and clothes banks? As Chere Di Boscio says on Eluxe Magazine: “If they’re tossed out while they still look good, is this H&M’s fault…or our own?”
I disagree when Marc says “a landfill overflowing with organic cotton is still an overflowing landfill”, it’s not always about the potential for a piece of clothing to end up in landfill.
What about the millions of tonnes of less pollution in the water systems because organic cotton is being used instead of pesticides and fertilisers?
What about the health of the cotton pickers themselves?
And what about long term affect as more and more companies (and consumers) are moving towards more environmentally-friendly ways of working and shopping?
My beautiful tops in the photos above were made from 100% recycled plastic. It may not seem like much in the grand scheme of things, but every single item of clothing that is produced from recycled products is one less that is produced from brand new polyester. And, personally, I appreciate the little wins as well as the big!