How H&M Are Going Green By 2020

Olivia Burton

The Swedish fashion giants H&M (Hennes & Mauritz AB) have had a pretty remarkable turn around over the last few years. The worldwide brand have previously been fast fashion offenders, commonly linked to violations of labor rights and found using toxic chemicals in their clothing.

They are now cleaning up their act due to consumer pressure, aiming to be ‘sustainable’ by 2020.

“We are committed to showing that sustainable fashion has a place on the red carpet as well as making it part of our daily offer in our stores,” H&M’s website said. Greenpeace and WWF have even recently praised H&M for their “green efforts”.

“Our partnership with the H&M group aims to address the most material environmental impacts across the company’s value chain with both short- and long-term perspectives. This supports the H&M group to lead by example and to inspire the industry about what can and should be done to address key issues, such as climate impact and water scarcity” Jochem Verberne, Global Partnerships Director at WWF International.

Instead of taking their word for it, what are they actually doing to become eco-friendly?  

Image source: H&M

H&M sustainability

H&M sustainability

Mindset & Marketing

H&M’s mindset shift, marketing itself as a sustainable brand, is hugely important in itself. H&M is accessible from the catwalk to the high street, influencing people’s mindsets to care about what they wear and the impacts of fashion. H&M has a huge global target market, influencing over 30 million people globally. The group also owns various other brands, which will have the same shift (Cos, Cheap Monday, Monki, Weekday, & other stories).

Looking at H&M’s website, sustainability is a dominant theme with key messaging about caring for your clothes, buying well made clothing and keeping them out of landfill. Educating consumers on reducing their clothing impacts is essential to reduce the environmental strain from the fashion industry.


The materials that make our clothes are incredibly important as they have a huge impact; on us, the people that make them, animals and the environment.

H&M is currently the world’s largest buyer of organic cotton, they have committed to sourcing cotton from only sustainable sources by 2020. Organic cotton uses methods and materials that lessen the impact on the environment.

H&M are also committing to using 100% recycled or sustainability sourced materials by 2030. They are aiming to change their impacts focusing on design, raw materials and fabric production. This also includes using only ethical animal sourced materials.

H&M sustainability


H&M collects thousands of tonnes of unwanted textiles each year and are attempting to close the loop. These clothes are put into three streams; resold second hand, recycled into other products or rewoven into new fabrics. According to H&M’s recent promotional video, 99% of the clothes collected are re-worn, reused or recycled. The last percent is turned into new energy.

Production + Supply Chain

The group is also looking into reducing their impacts from the factory and to have 100% transparent supply chains. They have also started using renewable energy (currently 96%).  Another aim is to reduce green house gas emissions from transporting garments.

Looking into H&M’s pledge to ‘go green’, it look’s hopeful. Collaboration is also a key part of their sustainability journey, which is essential for change. Even if it takes longer than planned, it’s a symbol of shift for high street fashion.

To read their full sustainability report 2016 – click here

What do you think? Corporate Greenwashing or are they doing the right thing?

Olivia Burton

Olivia is an eco-writer, producer, science graduate & ocean enthusiast. After moving from London to Sydney, she found her love for the outdoors and recycled textiles, which led her to start writing about science and sustainable fashion. Olivia is really passionate about brands using fashion for good and innovation in the industry. She now splits her time between several not-for-profit organisations in communication roles. Olivia is also a Centre for Sustainability Leadership alumni and sits on the Fashion Revolution committee for Australia & New Zealand.