Four years after H&M got (sand)blasted for throwing away perfectly good clothes cut into unwearable tatters, the company is turning your old duds into 20 percent recycled cotton jeans. So is the global clothier’s newest move yet another attempt to wash that scandal outta your mind, or the latest in a long-term Commitment to Sustainability?
Devil on shoulder: Keep shopping at H&M! It’s not going anywhere soon. Fast fashion is crack, and as long as the H&Ms and Forever 21s of the world offer it to the masses for dirt cheap, it might as well be sorta sustainable. According to Treehugger, H&M uses more organic cotton than any other company worldwide, and it turned 9.5 million PET bottles into recycled polyester. YAY!!!! Right?
Angel on shoulder: Quit your cheap-clothes habit. H&M’s still evil. This is just good old-fashioned greenwashing. Fast fashion companies are inherently unsustainable, from questionable labor practices overseas to encouraging a voracious consumer appetite for shiny new things. There’s also the huge wastefulness of growing cotton (pesticide and water use, for starters) and the heaps of barely worn clothes that end up in landfills. (According to Overdressed author Elizabeth Cline, only 20 percent of clothes in your typical charity shop ever get sold.)
So what do we do? Praise H&M for its baby steps while pushing for bigger, more meaningful change. Pay more for well-made items that are a little more timeless, and keep them for years. Shop secondhand instead. Go nudist. (We won’t judge.)
Or you could always make your own clothes outta condoms. #winning
H&M collects your old clothes to make new jeans, Treehugger.