Socially Responsible Company H&M Leads the Way As World’s Biggest Organic Cotton User

H&M is becoming increasingly known as a socially responsible company for being the biggest user of organic cotton worldwide for a second consecutive year in 2011, according to Textile Exchange, a global organisation designed to promote the growth of organic cotton. The Textile Exchange is also publisher of the annual Global Sustainable Textiles Market Report which identifies trends, market leaders and providing market projections for the year to come. Dutch retail chain C&A, Nike and fashion retailer Zara, the flagship store of Inditex Group, all hold positions two, three and four on this year’s list respectively, each for the second year in a row. Adidas is knocked out of the top ten and replaced by Anvil Knitwear at fifth place.

H&M has continued to increase its already world-leading use of organic cotton as part of its strategic goal to only use sustainable cotton by 2020. It has been using certified organic cotton since 2004; all garments made from it have a hangtag that lets consumers know. In 2010 the fashion brand used approximately 15,000 tonnes of this natural fibre, a significant increase from previous years. Henrik Lampa, CSR Manager, Product at H&M says, “The intention is to gradually use more organic cotton as part of our target to only use more sustainable cotton by 2020. We want to further contribute towards increased demand for organic cotton and motivate farmers for sustainable cotton cultivation.” This socially responsible company continues to demonstrate leadership and innovation through its expansion of organic cotton use.

As well as investing in organic cotton, H&M works to improve conventional cotton growing and to make all cotton used more sustainable. It has been involved with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) since 2004 and is an elected member of the organisation’s council. The BCI is a long-term initiative that develops and promotes good farm practices allowing more cotton to be grown while reducing water and chemical use.

H&M is not just passionate about fashion, it is passionate about the planet. In 2010, the brand took the lead to be the number one consumer of organic cotton. As a result their fun and stylish eco-collection not only resonates with its customer, but also supports its longer-term socially responsible commitment to create fashion that is more sustainable.

Interestingly, although 81 percent of brands and retailers responding to the 2011 Global Sustainable Textiles Market Report said they plan to use more organic cotton, production dropped by 37 percent, the first time organic cotton production has been down in 10 years. This publication forecasts it will drop again in 2012. Textile Exchange says this shows a disconnect between supply and demand because while companies say they plan to increase organic cotton options, most are not taking steps to communicate this down the supply chain to farmers.

Photo Credit: H&M website

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