Macy’s is the latest apparel retailer to boost its focus on sustainability as customers continue to expect a greater environmental commitment from the fashion industry.

The chain has released a long list of medium-term sustainability goals in its “2020 Sustainability Report including:

  • Reduction of energy consumption by 10 percent from where it stood in 2018 (by 2025);
  • Reduction of water use for the manufacture of private label brands 25 percent from the amount used in 2019 (by 2025);
  • The introduction of lists of substances restricted from being used in private label brands (one for apparel, footwear and home textile in 2023 and one for non-apparel in 2024).
  • Making 40 percent of private label apparel brands from sustainable fibers by 2025.
  • Disclosure of all ingredients in beauty, baby care, personal care and home cleaning products sold on the Macy’s website by 2025.
  • Adding sustainable products to macys.com and focusing on initiatives to lengthen the lifespan of products.

Things had long been rocky for Macy’s, with the chain being perceived as a mall-dependent retailer without a strong differentiator in the apparel market. However the company has experienced a strong couple of quarters, which management attributes to a successful turnaround strategy that is pulling in new shoppers, according to CNBC.

As shoppers have grown more conscious of environmental issues, apparel — and fast fashion in particular — has come under fire from activists for its negative impact on the environment.

A Princeton study from 2020 cites the apparel industry as responsible for more carbon emissions than all maritime shipping and international flights combined.

While more retailers have been touting their commitment to environmental causes, some have also faced criticism for “greenwashing,” or insincerely pursuing environmental goals for the visibility and profit it generates.

On the other hand, despite the industry perception that issues of sustainability are uniquely important to younger generations, some major emerging youth-oriented brands, like the wildly popular fast-fashion brand, Shein, have not experienced blowback for their failure to adhere to sustainable standards.


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