Aiming to set a positive example, the Swedish retail giant is constantly looking for ways to make fast fashion more sustainable. And while the use of organic cotton in certain collections may seem like a mere baby step in the right direction, it was nonetheless enough to make H&M the largest buyer of certified organic cotton on the planet last year.
In 2013, 10.8 percent of the cotton used by H&M was certified organic. This may not seem like a lot, but it was enough to make the fashion giant the leading purchaser according to Textile Exchange's Organic Cotton Market Report 2013. In the past, H&M led the ranking in 2010 and 2011 before slipping into second place in 2012.
"We are very proud of this achievement and we have set a clear goal to further increase our usage of certified organic cotton. This is part of our strategic target to use only more sustainable cotton by 2020," explained Henrik Lampa, H&M's environmental sustainability manager.
Lampa added that the company is also pioneering the use of recycled cotton and "Better Cotton," which is grown in conditions that respect the local environment and improve the livelihood of growers and their communities. By the end of 2013, Better Cotton represented 5 percent of H&M's total cotton use.
"We congratulate H&M on its continued impressive demonstration of leadership," said Textile Exchange's managing director LaRhea Pepper. "H&M is a wonderful example of a company making meaningful change in the textile industry."
Also among the top buyers by volume in the latest Organic Cotton Market Report were C&A (in second place), Puma, Nike, Target and Williams-Sonoma, among other brands. Target also claimed second place in the ranking by growth on the previous year, behind the T-shirt brand Stanley and Stella.