H&M Joins With WWF to Improve Stewardship of Global Water Supply


Swedish multinational retailer H&M has joined forces for a three-year global collaboration with the World Wildlife Federation, adding French actress/singer Vanessa Paradis to be the spring face of H&M’s Conscious Collection.

Paradis sports fashions made from Conscious materials such as organic cotton, recycled polyester and Tencel.

“I like being part of something like the Conscious collection at H&M,” she said in a statement. “I try my best to shop consciously, and vintage is very much part of my wardrobe. I love the style and it works in an eco-friendly way because I like to use and reuse old clothes.”[more] 

Last year, the two brands evaluated H&M’s entire ecosystem. Their findings will inform a new water strategy that begins with designers and buyers, who will receive training in the water impacts of raw material production as well as wet processes that promote more sustainable choices. 

Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International, said the partnership “marks an evolution in the corporate approach to water.” 

 “H&M understands that its long-term success depends on access to adequate water supplies,” he said. “It also understands that its social license to operate depends on being a good neighbour and good steward of shared resources.” 

A particular focus will be given to river basins in China and Bangladesh in support of the WWF conservation projects around the Yangtze. Close to 2.7 billion people – about 40 percent of the world’s population – live in river basins that undergo dramatic water scarcity at least one month per year, according to WWF’s 2012 Living Planet Report

H&M will focus on areas where wet processes are used in manufacture in an effort to reduce negative water impacts across the value chain. “Water is a key resource for H&M and we are committed to ensure that water is used responsibly throughout our value chain,” said Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of H&M in a statement.

The strategy will be implemented across H&M’s 48 national markets, targeting all 750 direct suppliers and many fabric manufacturers with new information. Nearly 1,000 H&M staff in buying offices, production and sales — as well as the company’s 94,000 employees — will be educated about water issues.

To date, H&M’s work with water to date includes the Better Cotton Initiative; mill development partnerships with Solidaridad and NRDC to reduce water and environmental impact in fabric production; commitment to lead the fashion industry to zero discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2020; and support for WaterAid, which aims to improve access to safe water and sanitation for many worldwide.

H&M followed Marks & Spencer in leading the “rack-pack” in sustainability by launching the world’s first global clothing collective initiative to be in all of its 48 markets by February.