Green Retailing and the eco friendly formula to remain conscious when shopping.

We live in a climate where rectification is more the order of the day than it is building, and such is the case for our environment and the earth. When looking at sustainable development and implementation within the fashion industry, we need to consider the supply chain first as it gives structure and order to developing an eco-conscious society. The supply chain is responsible for eco-material preparation, sustainable manufacturing, green distribution, green retailing and creating an ethical consumer guide to support sustainable business practise. In this piece we will focus on green retailing while using H&M as a layout for the construction of one of the building blocks of a sustainable supply chain. The importance of green retailing is to prove that fashion producers are no longer in charge of the production methods used in the industry because consumers desire a more sustainable supply chain. 

Green retailing refers to the management approach that pursues environmental protection to improve the retail value chain through eliminating waste, increasing efficiency and reducing costs. This practice is based on the triple bottom line, an accounting framework encompassing models based on the planet, people and making a profit. This framework is used to evaluate a business’ performance in a broader perspective to create greater business value, in this case being sustainable development. The planet aspect is meant to encourage a healthy environment, climate and energy as well as a reduction in natural resources use. The people aspect calculates social performance, which focuses on basic needs, personal development of all suppliers, producers and consumers for a well balanced society. The profit clause is used as a guide to gauge future economic performances based on the workings of the framework as a whole. As a result, for fashion producers, suppliers and investors; being sustainable is a way to promote their responsibility to society and the environment so as to gain the competitive advantage in the market, without abusing their capital power.

H&M, a multinational fast fashion house, launched a sustainable program called ‘Conscious Action’, worldwide in 2013. The program was designed to create more jobs in developing communities, use more recyclable resources in production, while consumers were taught lessons on ethical sustainable consumption. This idea follows the triple bottom line, however, there are challenges of being more sustainable while trying to maintain steady profitability. Material production is an issue because the earth’s natural resources are depleting. Garment manufacturing along with distribution/ transportation of garments, are responsible for copious amounts of greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions. Consumer education can also be challenging, especially when the culture within a society does not understand the roots and impact of practising sustainable consumption. Challenges present opportunities to think and work differently. H&M uses three r’s, re-wear, re-use, recycle. The three r’s serve to ensure that costs are reduced by drawing energy from transport by using local firms for production, whilst lowering emissions. They have also sought to improve brand value and social responsibility by tracking and communicating the efforts and impacts mentioned above. H&M also managed to involve the general public by offering incentives for returning old garments, under any condition, to their stores which the business uses for further sustainable practise.

The three r’s presented by H&M have set a precedent for sustainable business conduct, by promoting sustainable concepts in ethical consumer retailing. Re-wear means that H&M can do business with smaller retailers in the second-hand market, by selling them good quality clothes that are no longer desired by their initial owners to start a new life cycle. The second r, re-use, means that the collected garments can be up-cycled, in which some textiles and fabrics are reprocessed and made into useful commercial products. The final r, recycle, focuses on saving natural resources and avoiding textile waste, by having readily available materials that could be used in production. This system benefits all the involved parties, consumers get discounts for donating their unwanted garments, H&M uses all the revenue from this initiative to donate to local charities, empowered smaller businesses and reinvest in further sustainability initiatives. The earth experiences less negative environmental impact and a reduction in natural resource use. 

Sustainable fashion development in the retail sector aims to go green without sacrificing too much of their profit margins and keeping as many of their employees, employed. With green retailing, therefore, the marketing of sustainable products requires a broad range of activities and responsible rebranding. The activities include product modification, changes to the production process, sustainable packaging and modifying advertising. Another important aspect to consider is the launching of online stores, which could cluster user experience and create sustainable business values. The framework for sustainable fashion development, therefore, already exists and, although not easy to implement, is possible. H&M has proven that changing one’s business model does not have to change corporate business conduct it need only change the way consumers respond when called upon to be more responsible and be ready to rectify our past practises.

RE-wear, Re-use, Re-cycle.
(H&M policy for sustainable development and practise)

3 thoughts on “Green Retailing and the eco friendly formula to remain conscious when shopping.

  1. As a person who is into thrifting and has ambitions of doing something within the fashion industry… I found this piece to be every informative. 🤗🤗

    1. I appreciate the feedback. It is my intention to be as precise as possible since sustainable fashion is still a fragment in our fashion knowledge.
      I hope we get to continue building and empowering one another.

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