In the nearly two years since The New York Times reported that H&M was destroying and discarding unworn clothing, we've seen the retailer make strides to minimize the impacts of fast fashion. Rather than just making a quick financial donation to quiet the backlash and bad press, they swiftly created Conscious* programs and collections committed to environmentally friendly practices.
While it's true that there are many retail examples of economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable commitments — H&M's newest venture, a recycling program that lets customers exchange old clothes for store discounts, has caught our attention.
The iCollect initiative will launch in February 2013 with boxes placed near cash wraps in stores for recycling worn garments. According to WWD, vouchers in the form of store discounts will be issued for each bag of used clothing regardless of the brand (i.e., non-H&M items are also accepted) or condition.
"There are a lot of garments that really go to waste. We encourage customers to use garments for as long as possible, but we know a lot goes to incineration plants," a brand rep told WWD. "We want to advance recycling. We want to organically grow this idea."
Styles may come and go, but upcycling and recycling will remain key themes that engage customers in the coming year.