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Sustainability Roundup: H&M’s Global Change Award, LFW Goes Green, A&F Adopts Eco-Friendly Sourcing Policy

H&M Foundation debuts its third annual Global Change Award

Protecting the planet continues to be part of H&M Foundation’s mission—the organization announced its third annual Global Change Award, which aims to lay the groundwork for a circular fashion industry.

On Wednesday, the H&M Foundation began accepting applications on its website, calling for global innovators to share their sustainable apparel solutions. Five winners will share a $1.2 million grant, in addition to a one-year innovation accelerator program that provides access to fashion industry resources.

An expert panel comprised of fashion and environmental experts will select the winners, while the public will determine how the $1.2 million grant is dispersed through an online poll. The program, in partnership with consulting company Accenture and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, will transport teams to New York, Stockholm and Shanghai for mentorship opportunities.

Last year, more than 2,800 applications from 130 countries were submitted. Winning ideas included leather made of wine making remnants, climate positive nylon made from water and solar energy, and digital threads woven into garments for an easier recycling process. H&M Foundation doesn’t take ownership of any intellectual property rights related to the winners’ ideas, allowing the innovations to remain available to the industry at large.

“We began this journey with the H&M Foundation two years ago, and it has been particularly interesting to see the increasing utilization of digital technologies in the Global Change Award innovations,” Accenture senior managing director Jill Standish said. “Our belief is that technology can provide some critical solutions to the sustainability challenges the industry is facing and we can’t wait to see what ground-breaking ideas year three will bring.”

Switch to Green Campaign unveiled at London Fashion Week

The U.K. fashion industry is coming together to reduce its carbon footprint with a new initiative.

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On Friday, The British Fashion Council (BFC), the Mayor of London and designer Vivienne Westwood collectively urged the nation’s fashion brands to switch to greener energy suppliers by 2020. The campaign, which is timely with the Paris Agreement, already onboarded many fashion companies, including Kering, Marks & Spencer and Stella McCartney.

“At City Hall, we want the capital to become a zero-carbon city by 2050 and to achieve this, we need Londoners and businesses to get on board,” Justine Simons, deputy mayor for culture and the creative industries, said. “I’m proud to support Vivienne Westwood and the British Fashion Council in their call to Switch to Green today—now is the fashion industry’s chance to make going green the number-one trend this autumn.”

Even though the U.K. is making progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, its uncertain if the nation will reach its target to source 15 percent of all electrical, heating and transport energy from greener energy sources over the next three years. With the help of brands choosing greener energy suppliers, the U.K. can move toward a more circular fashion economy and reduce its overall carbon footprint.

[Read more on the industry’s sustainability efforts: Fashion Positive Unveils Digital Tools for Circular Fashion]

Abercrombie & Fitch enacts eco-friendly sourcing policy

Deforestation issues have prompted A&F to adopt a new policy on sourcing wood-based fabrics from certified forests and using these often-controversial materials, including rayon, in its garments.

The apparel retailer collaborated with Rainforest Action Network (RAN) on the new policy, which aims to remedy A&F’s supply chain and raise awareness about the risks associated with sourcing wood-based fabrics from endangered forests worldwide.

Under the policy, A&F committed to trace the origins of its regenerated cellulosic fibers, including viscose, used in its apparel brands. By mid-2018, the company aims to put in comprehensive procedures for tracing the sources of their suppliers’ fibers—ensuring that they don’t come from endangered forests or violate the living rights of indigenous people who live in those areas.

Targeting producers in Canada, Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa, A&F’s policy serves as a solution for ongoing conflict between fabric pulp manufacturing and local communities that depend on forests. These risk areas, including Northern Sumatra in Indonesia, have reported more than 20 cases of land conflict where traditionally owned plots have been taken over by companies for material production.

A&F joins other companies, including Ralph Lauren and Victoria’s Secret (L Brands), who are committed to sustainable wood cellulose sourcing and minimizing the negative impact of deforestation.

“At A&F, we have a history of demonstrating our commitment to environmental responsibility through our actions and this new policy is a further step on our ongoing sustainability journey,” said A&F senior sustainability director Kim Harr. “We know there is a need for better supply chain transparency and, with RAN’s support, we can now make an even greater positive impact.”