H&M Sets Up Prize for Clothing Recycling Techniques
September 8, 2015 1 Comment
H&M is known for producing cheap clothing of reasonable quality, part of the so-called “fast fashion” industry. Clothes like this are the kind that appear in Internet ads or are discussed on morning talk shows with rock bottom prices. And yes, most of these companies use incredibly low-paid employees and are seemingly unconcerned with the safety of those employees.
But H&M, at least, is trying to improve their ethics credentials, probably save themselves some money, and help the environment at the same time. Currently, their working on their first line of jeans containing recycled cotton, which go on sale soon. Cotton is notoriously hard to recycle, especially when blended with other materials, and so most clothing ends up in the dump. Certainly some people donate their old clothes, but most of it ends up in the trash.
The problem is that cotton is water and, currently, pesticide intensive, so growing it isn’t exactly great for the environment. Finding ways to recycle it is important, not only to the environment, but also to the profit lines of fashion companies. If they could find ways to efficiently recycle cotton and other fabrics, they might be able to cut down production costs even more. Maybe then they could turn some of that into higher wages for the people making their clothes.
But H&M, whatever their reasons, is serious about recycling cotton, and they’ve set up an annual €1 million prize to be awarded to whoever comes up with the best new techniques to recycle clothing. That’s about $1.6 million, each year, to find ways to reduce waste. That’s a pretty good goal, and it’s a nice sized prize, which might get people in the industry to start actually thinking about recycling more, and might be able to get some scientists and other researchers to look toward that subject as well.