Fast-fashion giant H&M has gotten a lot of flack for its business practices over the years. It has been called out for issues ranging from ripped-off designs to production malpractices—but there have been steps in the right direction, too. Namely, a newfound attention on sustainability. Next up on its to-do list: repositioning what the brand does with faulty clothes that don’t meet the standards of selling.
The clothes are lit on fire.
According to a Bloomberg report, a Swedish power plant in Vasteras has added discarded H&M clothes to its list of things to burn that are better than fossil fuels. In addition to the clothes, the plant burns recycled wood and trash. A spokesperson for the plant said the plan is to use only renewable and recycled energy sources. Clothes happen to be one of those things.
Listen, there’s no doubt that fast fashion—and H&M is certainly part of that world—is an enterprise built on the often-wasteful consumption and discarding of clothes. One power plant isn’t going to make up for all the trendy shirts and jeans already sitting in landfills. But in a world fraught with pollution, any step to limit its effects should be welcomed. Finding a new, more purposeful home for pieces that can’t be sold is just the kind of repositioning fast-fashion brands need. Might H&M be an inspiration to others looking for a more sustainable way?