FINDING GOLD IN OLD
With an aim to change the way fashion is made, used and disposed of, various global fashion retailers over the years have come up with innovative ways to recycle clothes which are manufactured using a lot of resources, but end up becoming waste in landfills.
From H&M to Target and even Levis, various global fashion retailers are committed to taking used clothing from consumers to recycle them, and saving the environment from devastation. Annually, Americans alone discard more than 28 billion pounds of unwanted clothing, shoes, and other textiles. Charitable organizations and others collect roughly 15 per cent of these items while the remaining 85 per cent — 24 billion pounds — end up in landfills.
With some of these brands making inroads into India, the initiative is slowly but gradually picking up in the country as well. In fact, H&M has already started it’s recycling initiative in India. Here’s a look on how these retailers give a lease of life to old clothes:
World Recycle Week is a global H&M initiative and is part of H&M’s goal to close the loop in fashion and recycle unwanted garments to create recycled textile fibers for new clothes. H&M claims to be the first fashion company to launch a global garment collection initiative in 2013. Since then, the company has gathered more than 22,000 tons of garments to give them a new life – that’s as much fabric as in 100 million t-shirts.
The company follows a three-pronged strategy to give life to collected clothes: Re-wear – clothing that can be worn again are sold at H&M stores as second-hand clothes, Reuse – old clothes and textiles are turned into other products, such as cleaning cloths and Recycle – everything else is turned into textile fibres or other use such as insulation.
On April 18, 2016 H&M launched its week-long global initiative (World Recycle Week) in India at South Delhi’s Select Citywalk. The company joined forces with artist and singer M.I.A. to collect 1,000 tons of unwanted or worn out garments from customers worldwide, within this one week. As an incentive, a special offer was running in H&M stores. H&M gifted two discount vouchers worth 15 per cent each for every donation made.
Any money made from this service is invested into social projects, as well as research and innovation projects on how old textiles can be turned into new fibres, with the ultimate goal of being able to recycle all clothing waste and achieve a closed loop for fashion.
Each year, Aéropostale partners with DoSomething.org, the largest not-for-profit organization for young people and social change in the US, for a jean drive entitled “Teens for Jeans.”
Teens for Jeans encourages young people to run a gently-used jeans drive in their school or community to provide jeans for youth experiencing homelessness. To date, the campaign has collected over 4.3 million pairs of jeans.
Young people drop off their jeans at any Aeropostale or P.S. by Aeropostale store in the US, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico and all of the jeans collected are distributed to local homeless shelters and charities.
Levi’s Strauss & Co.
From campaigns like WaterLess (a process where the company claims to have saved more than 1 billion litres of water in the various processes of manufacturing the final product) to WellThread (a collection that represents a fundamental reinvention of the design process to incorporate sustainability into every stage of the development process) to WasteLess (clothing recycling), Levi Strauss & Co. has a long history of sustainability.
In 2015 the company expanded its clothing recycling initiative in both retail stores and through its e-commerce sites in the U.S. In stores, Levi’s partnered with I:Collect (I:CO), an end-to-end solutions provider for reuse and recycling of apparel, footwear, and other textiles. Just like H&M, wearable items are resold and re-worn, while other pieces are reused as products such as cleaning cloths, recycled into fibers for insulation and padding or upcycled into new products.
For its online portals; Levi.com & Dockers.com, the company announced a new program in partnership with Goodwill that provides consumers an opportunity to donate used clothing and shoes by using a free shipping label available on the U.S. e-commerce sites for the Levi’s® and Dockers® brands.
American Eagle Outfitters
In 2011 and 2012, Cotton Incorporated and American Eagle Outfitters partnered on the From Blue to Green denim recycling program. The customers were invited to bring any type of denim from any brand to American Eagle Outfitters stores across the US. The donated denim was then given new life and converted into UltraTouch Denim Insulation that could be used in home building projects.
The Blue to Green program gave customers a discount on new denim while also keeping old denim out of landfills. American Eagle Outfitters associates and customers donated 132,672 items including unwanted jeans, shorts, and skirts, which helped to insulate 265 Habitat For Humanity homes.
Along with this, for every Earth Day, the company partners with I:CO (I:Collect) to create a zero-waste textile initiative. Under this, the customers are able to recycle their unwanted clothing, shoes and textiles (even those stained or with holes) with I:CO. All items are redistributed to developing countries or recycled and transformed into new products like reusable bags or insulation.
In May 2015, the Minneapolis-based retailer had done a modest test at 11 Twin Cities area stores ,in partnership with online secondhand clothing store thredUP, where customers could pick up a “Clean Out” bag to fill with used clothes and then either drop it off at those select stores or mail it in. ThredUp then evaluated the clothes and then send customers a Target gift card for the items it wanted to resell.