Controvery, schcontroversy. As the biggest global user of certified-organic cotton for the second year running, H&M has plenty to crow about. The revelation comes courtesy of Textile Exchange, a nonprofit organization whose Organic Cotton Market Report looks back on 2011 as a “year of contradictions” filled with peaks and valleys. Among the high points? H&M, which not only maintained its position as the No. 1 buyer of certified-organic cotton but also increased its use of the white stuff by nearly 100 percent in 2011.
STILL NO. 1
The Swedish fast-fashion retailer began using organic cotton in earnest in 2004. Three years later, it offered its first 100 percent organic-cotton garments, followed by the semi-regular Conscious Collection in 2011. Organic cotton, according to Textile Exchange, now represents 7.6 percent of H&M’s total cotton use. Combined with expected future growth in the use of “Better Cotton”, the company says it’s on track to sourcing 100 percent of its cotton from “more sustainable” sources by 2020.
H&M says it’s on track to sourcing 100 percent of its cotton from “more sustainable” sources by 2020.
“We congratulate H&M for again leading the list of the biggest users of certified organic cotton in the world,” says LaRhea Pepper, managing director of Textile Exchange. “H&M’s ambitious program continues to drive demand for organic cotton and other more sustainable fibres. This supports farmers, encourages innovation and with its fashion-forward Conscious Collections, H&M lifts more sustainable fashion to scale. This strategic work serves as a model for adopting and expanding the use of greener materials in the fashion industry.”
As a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, an initiative whose partners include the World Wildlife Fund and Solidaridad, H&M has invested more than €2 million in helping hundreds of thousands of cotton farmers grow their crops with less water, fewer chemicals, and greater dignity.
The road to healthier cotton hasn’t hasn’t always been easy, but H&M says it wants to make the environmentally friendly option an accessible alternative. “We plan to further increase our use of organic cotton in the future, beside making strong investments in Better Cotton and gradually increasing our use of recycled cotton,” says Henrik Lampa, sustainability manager product at H&M. “Cotton is the raw material we use the most and our good progress against our goal means major improvements for people and the environment in cotton-producing communities.”