Although we strive to make the most sustainable sourcing and design choices on behalf of our customers, we can only do so much on our own. To that end, we continue looking at ways we can further engage customers through our #WearTheChange campaign, provide customers with opportunities to give new life to old garments through 'we take it back', and engage them in other ways during their shopping experience and beyond. Our objective is to make sustainability something we all do together, every day.
Inviting customers on our sustainability journey
In our stores in every retail market, the first thing our customers around the world see is our #WearTheChange platform, which aims to help our customers find the products they want with the confidence they have been produced and sourced sustainably.
Offering more sustainable products
For many years, we have worked on behalf of our customers to make our clothes responsibly and source our materials with sustainability in mind. 94% of the cotton we use is organic cotton or sourced as Better Cotton, which we know is important to customers, and we offer groundbreaking products such as our Gold level Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM T-shirts and jeans, as well as many other Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM items.
Helping customers recycle with ‘we take it back’
Our in-store take-back programme has grown to include retail markets around the world. In 2019, we collected 1,422 metric tons of unwanted clothing to give them new life. We also continued our online take-back programme in Germany and expanded it to France, providing customers with another option for recycling old clothes. In Brazil, where C&A stores also sell some electronics, in 2019 we collected 4.8 tons of batteries and mobile phones, which were then sent for recycling.
Read more about our in-store take-back programmes
Replacing single-use plastic bags with a more sustainable option
We are phasing out the sale of single-use plastic bags in all of our more than 1,400 stores across 18 countries in Europe. In 2020, we began introducing the durable 'bag-for-life', made of 80% recycled PET, which can withstand many shopping trips. When worn out, it can be returned to any C&A store and exchanged for a new one free of charge. We are also offering customers the choice of 100% recycled paper bags made of unbleached brown paper, which saves the water and energy otherwise needed for the bleaching process. In addition to PET and paper, we continue to offer customers other alternatives, such as cotton bags.
Giving customers a look at our sustainable stores
In Brazil, C&A is the ﬁrst fashion retail company to have a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-certiﬁed, bespoke Eco Store. Several times each year, C&A Brazil invites customers and other interested members of the public to visit and learn about the store behind the scenes. In 2019, C&A Brazil conducted four tours which were attended by employees, customers, and students, bringing them even closer to C&A and the sustainability issues being addressed.
Refining our #WearTheChange communications
We will continue communicating on the sustainability topics relevant for our customers and take our product storytelling to the next level through a variety of regionally customised #WearTheChange communications. We will use the findings of our 2019 customer survey to inform our communications approaches and further activate #WearTheChange across multiple channels. For instance, the survey indicated that social media is among customers' preferred communication channels across Brazil, Mexico, and China. As a result, we plan to supplement our in-store posters, hangtags, and rail cards with even more social media-based information about our products' sustainability.
Going forward, we are also focused on making sure we develop the right Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM products and clothing collections, in keeping with what is commercially and locally relevant to customers. Refining our approach to Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM products and making sure we communicate their benefits clearly and prominently in stores and online will help us even better meet our customers’ demand for more sustainable fashion.
Expanding ‘we take it back’
In 2020 and beyond, we anticipate growing the programme to even more markets as part of our overall commitment to circular fashion and as an eﬀective way to further engage customers in doing their part to create a circular economy that beneﬁts people and the environment.