Inditex, the parent company of fashion brand Zara, announced plans to transition to a more sustainable model after making its name as a frontrunner in the fast fashion industry.
The company pumps out 500 new designs per week, but it’s pledging to use only cotton, linen and polyester that’s organic, sustainable or recycled by 2025. The company will also use renewable energy for 80% of its energy consumption in distribution centers, offices and stores.
The move sends a message to manufacturers that supply Zara and other fashion companies, saying they must produce more environmentally-conscious materials or run the risk of losing business, says Elizabeth Cline, the author of two books on the impact of fast fashion.
Inditex is committing $3.5 million to research on textile recycling technology in partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. NPR reports that a lot is yet unknown about sustainability and the best practices for sustainable fashion, so this research commitment is a step towards better understanding.
Sustainability commitments by fashion companies may prove helpful for the environment, but Kline says it’s not just the fast fashion industry that needs to change, consumers and government regulators must act too.