Global fashion chain H&M has enlisted activist rapper M.I.A. to front its annual recycling week campaign as it embarks on a mission to collect 1000 tonnes of pre-loved clothing this April.
Coinciding with World Recycle Week on April 18, the Garment Collecting campaign will see more than 3500 H&M stores become collection centres for used clothing including those in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.
On April 11, M.I.A. will release an exclusive music video for H&M to raise awareness about the environmental impact of unwanted clothes ending up at landfills.
With the campaign encouraging people to donate product waste and promote recycling in return for H&M discount vouchers, the company believes it’s a win-win campaign.
However, some critics are skeptical.
New York Fashion Law Blog editor Julie Zerbo has questioned the merits of the campaign, telling TakePart credibility is dampened when you consider the practices that “fast fashion” brands undertake, which can often overlook the health and safety of workers.
“Recycling is important, but in my opinion, ensuring that laborers are not working in buildings that are catching on fire, for instance, which occurred in an H&M supplier factory in Bangladesh just last month, needs to be the priority,” Zerbo said.
In a statement to Smart Company, H&M says the campaign is central to the company’s dedicated conscious actions for sustainability.
“The long-term goal is to have zero garments going into landfill, as well as saving on natural resources,” it says.
H&M will convert clothes donated by customers into recycled textile fibres for new clothes and social media announcements will soon be made on daily pick up locations across Australia.
The power of social impact campaigns
When companies create social impact campaigns, it’s crucial to create a message that resonates and empowers people to be part of the change, says branding expert and InsideOut PR director Nicole Reaney.
Reaney told Smart Company the H&M recycling campaign is a powerful initiative because of its ability to connect with customers and social influencers worldwide.
“There is a public expectation that businesses integrate social responsibility but often businesses miss the mark by introducing a program that is not meaningful for its stakeholders, does not engage customers or makes it hard for customers to get involved,” she says.
Since launching the Garment Collecting campaign back in 2013, H&M has collected donations of more than 25,000 tonnes of unwanted clothing as it attempts to move toward a more sustainable model that closes the production loop between waste and new items.
“Everyone can get behind this campaign and by collaborating with artist M.I.A. and social influencers, the emotion behind the campaign will create an intense social movement,” says Reaney.
“The best part is that by contributing, people can see how their contribution makes a difference.”