While the fast-fashion industry has come under flak for its wasteful production methods and questionable product quality, several brands are already stepping up their game and developing measures for sustainability and improving the recyclability of their products. These have included UNIQLO and The Gap, which offer sustainable product lines for their clientele.
Now, Sweden-based H&M, another big name in the scene, is amping up its green cred by offering an infant clothing line that you can easily compost once items are worn out.
Safer and more sustainable
Set to launch in May of this year, H&M’s compostable baby line is crafted with 100% organic cotton certified under the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the sustainability and safety of baby products. In addition, each item is made with materials devoid of potentially harmful chemicals and produced using gray [recycled] water and renewable energy.
According to Abigail Kammerzell, H&M’s head of sustainability in the United States, this is the company’s first-ever compostable clothing collection. In addition, it’s the first product line under the brand to be 100% biodegradable, right down to the pigments used to color or print designs on the clothing. Another interesting detail is that none of the pieces in the collection have buttons or metal trim.
A better mix of materials
Kammerzell added that the company had increased the amount of recycled materials used to produce its garments from 5.7% to 17.95%. H&M’s aims to have a 30% recycled to 70% raw materials mix in its products by 2030.
However, Kammerzell admits that embracing sustainability is still not an easy task for her brand and its competitors, particularly where their suppliers are concerned. At present, H&M is challenged to find new suppliers who don’t use coal boilers in their production facilities – and it’s been an uphill climb, given that many factories, particularly those in Asia, still rely on coal-powered machinery.
Nearly a decade of recycling
The use of recycled materials isn’t anything new for H&M. Back in 2013, the company launched its global garment collection program wherein customers could drop off used clothing at its stores.
The program was meant to reduce the amount of clothing relegated to landfills. As a result, the company was able to salvage viable material from used clothes, accessories, and footwear.
Similar programs have been implemented by other fast-fashion brands across the globe, with the Spanish chain Zara accepting used garments throughout its global chain. The cotton, polyester, and linen upcycled from these garments eventually make their way to new products developed and sold by the brand.