Consider that a cotton T-shirt requires roughly 700 gallons of water to produce. Each year, the production of polyester emits roughly 1.5 trillion pounds of greenhouse gases.
As the fashion industry faces more scrutiny for the environmental impact of its operations, some fashion brands are trying to be more sustainable — and are advertising that to their customers.
Chief among them is global fast-fashion giant H&M, which is aggressively positioning itself as a leader in sustainability.
This is part an Across Women's Lives project: Wear and Tear series: The women who make our clothes.
The world’s largest fashion retailer touts itself as a leading buyer of sustainable cotton and recycled polyester. It promotes its use of renewable energy on billboards. Its “Conscious” and “Conscious Exclusive” lines highlight the recycled and sustainable materials they use.
The Swedish company’s most visible nod to the environment is its garment-recycling initiative, which offers customers a discount if they drop unwanted clothing off at any of the company’s 4,500 stores worldwide.
H&M markets it as a way to help customers “close the loop” in the fashion industry. But is it?
What happens to your clothes when you drop them at H&M?
H&M works with a global recycling company called I:CO, which picks up donated clothes from H&M stores and takes them to sorting plants around the world.
Garments collected in the US land in California. In Europe, they go to a plant near Leipzig, Germany, that’s as big as roughly 16 football fields.