Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Environmental Justice, Sustainability, Company, Solar Energy, Environment, Fashion, Policy, Social Issues

Pages: 7

Words: 1925

Published: 2021/01/06

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Abstract

Environment sustainability is one of the major issues that necessitate combined problem solving effort among all entities in the community including businesses or corporations in the private sector. Although the fashion industry is supposed to promote fashion trends, some companies such as H&M have taken steps to adopt sustainable practices. H&M is one of the companies in the fashion industry that have been consistently vocal in its initiatives and stance concerning sustainability. As H&M puts it, “Believe in a better fashion future – one where fashion both looks good and does good”. H&M’s philosophy, mission and vision, and values illustrate the company’s desire to contribute to sustainability by adopting sustainable practices that are good for the environment such as reducing its water consumption, collecting garments for recycling and reusing, and sourcing organic cotton from farmers. H&M also contributes to social causes by ensuring that workers work in fair and acceptable environments, providing fair living wages, and contributing to animal welfare causes. The research explores the impact of sustainability on the company’s philosophy and mission and how H&M applies them in their environmental and social causes.

Introduction

One of the major issues facing the international community is sustainable development. Due to recent environmental issues such as global warming, climate change, and water shortage (Carson, 2010; Feeney, Brown & Salina, 2008), environmental degradation, as well as other social issues affecting communities, and the role of corporations in exacerbating these phenomena, businesses should be one of the main players in the promotion of sustainability. H&M is one of the companies that have taken steps to address environmental and social issues. Some of the company’s policies include the recycling and reusing of garments to limit the use of raw materials for production, sourcing of organic cotton from farmers who do not use pesticide in cotton farming, reducing the company’s use of water, providing fair living wages, creating just working conditions for employees, and contributing to animal welfare (H&M, 2015; H&M Conscious Actions, 2015).
The succeeding discussion aims to determine the effect of sustainability on H&M’s philosophy, mission and values. To accomplish this objective, a survey will be conducted to gain information and perspective from consumers’ views and opinions of H&M’s sustainable policies and practices.

Methods

Coding was used to collate information for analysis and interpretation. The participants’ responses were recorded on a Microsoft Excel document. After noting the verbatim responses of the participants, coding was applied to highlight and label the main points in the participants’ responses. Coding during the analysis and interpretation also involved putting together similar responses and themes and comparing them to understand the participants’ views and opinion about H&M and sustainability in the company.

Results

As formerly noted, a survey was administered to 20 willing participants towards the goal of gaining their views and opinion about sustainability at H&M. To analyze and interpret data gathered through the survey, the coding method was used to record or tabulate information and highlight the themes in the participants’ responses. The succeeding discussion illustrates the results of the survey.
Out of the 20 participants, 14 (70%) are between the ages of 18 to 25 and 6 (30%) are between the ages of 26 to 35. Furthermore, 3 (15%) of the participants are male and 17 (85%) are female. To ensure that the participants would be able to contribute to the research, part of selecting them involved asking them beforehand if they were familiar with H&M. Doing so was necessary to ensure that the random selection of participants would lead to the participation of individuals who would be able to share their views and opinions about the company. For this reason, all of the participants is familiar with H&M. Based on the participants’ responses, some are aware about H&M due to advertisements in the form of print ads such as in magazines and posters or banners on the Internet. Other participants patronize the brand or have heard about it from their family and friends. Furthermore, all of the participants are aware that H&M is a clothing or apparel and accessories company in the retail fashion sector. In addition to this, 3 (15%) of the participants are also aware that H&M also offers accessories and decorations for the home such as pillows, blankets, and rugs among others.
Only 12 (60%) of the participants shared that they previously purchased fashion products or items described as sustainable. All 12 of the participants shared that the clothing and accessories they bought from H&M are examples of sustainable fashion. For this reason, we could surmise that some H&M customers are aware of the company’s policy and practices when it comes to sustainability. Furthermore, 16 (80%) of the participants shared that they bought clothing and accessories from H&M but were unaware that the company offers sustainable items of clothing. The remaining 4 (20%) participants shared that they were not able to purchase sustainable clothing or apparel and accessories, although they also admitted that they do not pay attention to this aspect of company policies when purchasing these items.
For the fourth question on H&M’s power as a sustainable company, all 16 (80%) of the participants including those that shared the fact that they have purchased clothing and accessories from H&M, were positive about the company’s sustainability policies. Most of the participants supported their affirmative answer by sharing that compared to other clothing and accessories, as well as fast fashion, H&M is one of the most vocal when it comes to sustainability. Furthermore, one of the participants shared that H&M has been consistent in promoting sustainability through various policies such as the use of organic cotton and the recycling of garments. Others are not entirely aware of H&M’s sustainable policies but mentioned that the company’s advertisements in various forms communicate its stance when it comes to environment and energy sustainability. The other 4 (20%) participants are clueless about H&M’s sustainable policies although they have purchased clothing and accessories from the company in the past.
The 16 (80%) participants who knew about H&M’s sustainable policies and stands expressed that they are supportive of the company. Out of these 16 participants, 12 (60%) of them wrote that sustainability is a major issue that all companies or businesses, even those outside the fashion industry, must address. Most of them also mentioned global warming and other environmental issues such as water shortage and the marginalization of laborers around the world as some of the problems that businesses and companies could change or influence. One of the participants also said that H&M promotes fashion, which in itself is a shallow aspect of life. For this reason, the participant argued that H&M must attempt to offer more for consumers and the community by adopting and implementing sustainable policies. The remaining 4 (20%) participants shared that if H&M is a sustainable company, then it should continue its efforts and become a role model and pioneer when it comes to introducing sustainable and ecologically friendly clothing to consumers.
When it comes to aspects of purchasing clothing and accessories, 14 (70%) of the participants admitted that they consider trends in fashion when making decisions. Looking good is very important to them. Nonetheless, 8 (40%) of these 14 participants also shared that although they value the physical quality of clothing and accessories they purchase, they also value the image or reputation of the companies they patronize. For this reason, they would more likely support companies such as H&M than other companies that do not implement sustainable policies or practices. Out of the 20 participants, 4 (20%) of them value comfort over style while the remaining 2 (10%) value cost. The 4 (20%) participants said that they patronize H&M because of the company’s comfortable style and clothing. The remaining 2 (10%) participants said that they are concerned about the cost of clothing. They would more likely purchase affordable clothing than expensive ones.
Only 4 (20%) of the participants are aware about H&M’s animal welfare policies. Out of the 4 participants, 3 (15%) of them shared that they saw animal welfare posts and advertisements at H&M’s physical and online stores. The other participant saw it in an advertisement and a news article. The remaining 16 (80%) participants are not aware of H&M’s animal welfare policies.

Discussion

The responses of the participants show that they are familiar or aware of H&M, particularly of the company’s product line and offers. The participants’ responses to the first two questions prove that they were in an appropriate position to participate in the research and respond to the questions because they knew about H&M, although on different levels of familiarity. Furthermore, the participants’ responses illustrate the importance of advertisements when it comes to promoting a company’s sustainable policies and practices. Although some of the participants are not entirely aware about H&M’s sustainable policies and practices, they would still support the company because of its stance. The participants value different aspects of fashion, such as trends and physical qualities, cost, and comfort of style. This does not mean, however, that as consumers, they do not pay attention to a fashion company’s sustainable practices. Sustainable practices also play an important role in helping consumers make decisions. The participants shared that they would more likely support companies such as H&M that promote sustainability in light of issues such as global warming, climate change, water shortage, and other environmental and social issues. Even if some of the participants do not pay attention to sustainability when making consumer decisions, they shared that they would admire and patronize a brand or business more if they adopted and promoted sustainable practices.
As formerly noted, based on the participants’ responses, they value and prioritize other aspects of fashion including physical appearance, cost, and comfort. Nonetheless, the participants’ responses also show their concern when it comes to environmental issues and sustainability. This shows awareness on their part of how companies such as H&M contribute to the community and the environment. Finally, the participants’ responses to the last question illustrate the inadequacy of H&M’s initiatives in promoting all issues and problems that may be resolved through social responsibility such as animal welfare. Only a few people are aware of H&M’s animal welfare policy. This means that the company should focus on advertising all the causes H&M supports, including its philosophies, mission, and values on various issues. Overall, however, H&M’s initiatives are satisfactory since most of the consumers lauded the company for contributing to environmental sustainability and change in the fashion industry.
Issues concerning sustainability has significantly influenced H&M’s philosophy, mission, and values because the company has adopted various policies and practices to address environmental and social issues. H&M has been actively promoting its initiatives because the company believes in the role of large scale corporations and businesses in addressing environmental and social issues and alleviating their impact on the environment and communities. Consequently, H&M has influenced global awareness about these issues. As evidenced by the participants’ awareness of various sustainable issues and their support and admiration of socially responsible companies such as H&M, the company has raised awareness on various issues that concern the environment, human laborers and fair wages, as well as animal welfare.
H&M has not only accomplished its environmental goals but also its objectives to promote social causes. Sustainable philosophy, mission, and values led H&M to provide fair living wages for workers in other countries. In this way, workers such as farmers receive just compensation commensurate to their efforts. In addition, H&M has also improved working conditions in production countries by setting standards in the treatment of workers and the quality of the work environment. Production countries let workers work within an acceptable number of shift hours and they receive benefits and incentives similar to workers in other fields or industries. Furthermore, H&M contributes to animal welfare initiatives by ensuring that its production of clothing and accessories does not harm animals in the process.

Conclusion

The results of the research show that as consumers, they would more likely support companies such as H&M that adopt and implement philosophies and values that contribute to sustainability. For this reason, H&M has actively pursued various initiatives and projects to promote sustainability in the environment and for communities. To address environmental issues, H&M sought to limit its water consumption and production through recycling and reusing. H&M also sources cotton from organic farms. To address social issues, H&M implements fair wages to laborers by giving them their due and providing benefits for farmers as well as for the company’s employees. H&M also supports animal welfare concerns.

References

Carson, R. (2000). The Obligation to Endure. McGraw-Hill Companies.
Feeney, C. & Brown, A. (Producer), & Salina, I. (Director). (2008). Flow: For the Love of Water [Documentary]. US: The Group Entertainment.
H&M. (2015). Cotton. Retrieved from: http://about.hm.com/en/About/sustainability/commitments/conscious-fashion/more-sustainable-materials/cotton.html
H&M Conscious Actions. (2015). Sustainability Report 2013. Retrieved from: http://sustainability.hm.com/content/dam/hm/about/documents/en/CSR/reports/Conscious%20Actions%20Sustainability%20Report%202013_en.pdf

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