Fast fashion has done a lot for democratizing the industry, offering trendy styles at affordable price points. That said, the consistency at which clothing brands produce garments, encouraging expenditure, has led to an increase in pollution: five percent of landfill space is occupied by 25.5 billion pounds of reusable textiles that are discarded each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s an epidemic that Zara and its parent company Inditex—one of the leading conglomerates to spur this mindset of persistent consumption—has pledged to circumvent. In its annual shareholders meeting that took place on July 16, the Spanish retailer announced that by 2025 it will be 100 percent more sustainable.
“Sustainability is a never-ending task in which everyone here at Inditex is involved, and in which we are successfully engaging all of our suppliers,” said Pablo Isla, chairman of Inditex. “Our digital transformation and determined progress towards the most demanding sustainability standards are complementary and underpinned by the efficiency of our long-standing business model, which is based on offering our customers the best in quality fashion.”
For Zara (along with other Inditex brands like Zara Home, Massimo Dutti, Pull&Bear, Bershka, Uterqüe, Oysho and Stradivarius), the path toward sustainability is a gradual process. The first goal is to have its stores carry containers that will collect unwanted wares to be recycled or sent to charity. Then the plan is to make its shops, logistic centers, and offices eco-efficient by using 80 percent renewable energy. By 2020, it will eliminate the use of plastic bags and send 100 percent of the waste accumulated at its spaces for recycling. More important, the company has committed to using only organic or reused cotton, linen, and polyester by 2025.
All this sounds pretty shaky, considering the way Zara produces apparel and accessories at such a rapid rate. Still, the attempt at becoming greener—or the announcement of doing so—is a big step in the right direction for what is reputedly the third largest clothing company in the world. Hopefully others will follow suit.
Lead image: Zara store in Brussels. Photo courtesy of Gpccurro, via Wikimedia Commons.