One of the biggest criticisms of fast fashion is that the convenience and affordability it provides is negated by cheap quality; if you're buying a poorly made sweater once a year for the rest of your life, it's much more wasteful (both in terms of the environment and your pocketbook) than spending a bigger sum on a better-made product.
To combat the high turnover, H&M is launching a new win-win recycling program: Bring in your used clothes to an H&M shop, and receive a discount on a future purchase. In return, H&M's partner company, I:Collect, will reprocess those textiles and create new garments with them.
For H&M, this is only an additional step in an ongoing effort in sustainability. The brand is the world's largest user of organic cotton, it has worked with Bangladesh garment workers on workers' rights, have minimized the amount of water spent in its denim production, and is planning on reaching zero chemical discharge by 2020. H&M will collect any kind of garment (even if doesn't have an H&M tag!) in any kind of condition. Drop a bag off, and receive a voucher for an in-store discount on a future purchase.
Says H&M: "Every year, tons of textiles are thrown out with domestic waste and end up in landfill. As much as 95% of these clothes could be used again; re-worn, reused or recycled — depending on the state of the garment. Long-term, H&M wants to reduce the environmental impact of garments throughout the lifecycle and create a closed loop for textile fibers."
Look for the I:Collect bins near checkout, starting February '13, in every single H&M market around the world.