In the market for change: H&M commits to conserving water
I say that in a very basic sense. For example, this morning I woke up to the sound of rain falling outside and rolled my eyes at the thought of walking around a slushy Toronto. Later, after a tough workout, I felt a deep love for water as I gulped it out of my water bottle. This afternoon, as I read about water scarcity in key river basins around the world, I felt anxious. Now, however, learning about fashion retailer H&M’s commitment to saving water, I feel hopeful.
© Tess MacIntosh / WWF-Canada
Just last month H&M announced their cutting-edge water strategy, which was developed in partnership with WWF. This is a huge deal because if you think about the amount of water the retail industry uses – from production, to washing and dyeing, to shipping, to store operations – it is quite staggering. I’ve written before about how important it is to get businesses to understand their water footprint and work on reducing it. This is precisely what H&M is doing, and it’s very exciting.
During 2012, WWF and H&M evaluated all of H&M’s efforts and challenges related to water, including agricultural production of fibers and manufacturing processes. The review guided development of the new H&M water strategy, which will be implemented starting this year. One of my favorite parts about this is that H&M is embedding the strategy in every part of their business. Designers and buyers will receive training on water impacts of raw material production, internal water efficiency will be improved, suppliers’ impact on water will be minimized, and staff and customers will be educated about water issues.
On an even larger scale, WWF and H&M will work in collaboration with policymakers, NGOs, water institutions, and other companies to support better management of particular river basins in China and Bangladesh – key production hubs for the company. In addition, H&M will support WWF freshwater conservation projects in the Yangtze River basin in China.
It’s great that H&M is being proactive and taking serious steps to conserve water, especially in water-scarce areas around the globe. I look forward to seeing other retailers and businesses follow suit so that we, as a global community, can prepare for a changing future. And I promise not to roll my eyes next time I hear it raining outside – I’ll smile and keep doing my best to conserve water in any way I can.