Can fast fashion be ethical?
In the past few years, the multinational retail clothing company H&M started integrating sustainability into its long term business strategy. Last week, the company released its 2012 Sustainability Report. The major highlights of 2012 include:
1. One of the first and largest fashion companies to make its supplier factory list public.
2. First clothing retailer to create a global system for recycling old clothing.
3. The number one user of organic cotton.
4. Raised support for higher wages and yearly wage reviews for garment workers in Bangladesh.
5. Launched a global water stewardship program in partner with WWF – taking the whole supply chain into account.
While these actions are admirable, H&M is still the second largest clothing retailer in the world selling more than 550 million garments each year. Currently there are 2,500 stores worldwide and the plan is to increase the number by 10-15% each year. The average monthly wage of a factory worker in Bangladesh is $43 which is the lowest in the world. Let’s face it, these fast fashion retail giants are largely responsible for the many environmental and social issues we face today.
What I’d much rather see is quality clothing that’s made to last so that they can decrease the amount of clothing being manufactured and in turn change customers’ habit of overconsumption. Nonetheless, I think H&M is heading in the right direction and I look forward to what they have in store.