SUSTAINABILITY: Steal this List from Marks & Spencer.


Earlier this week, I exchanged emails with AAPN member Anil Hirdaramani who's Sri Lankan apparel company Hirdaramani Group is a major enterprise in South Asia. It reminded me of when we first met, at the inaugural Sri Lanka Design Festival in 2010. We were guests that first year and were invited back in 2011 and 2012 to run the conference which, since, has been moderated by Kurt Cavano.

That first year 2010, I was surprised to be pulled from the audience and invited onto a panel featuring, among others, Ashroff Omar of Brandix and an executive from Marks & Spencer. That's when I learned of Marks & Spencer's "Plan A Because There is No Plan B" sustainability list. You can see this exhaustive list in amazing detail now here:

What do you do with it? Steal it. I once sat on an airplane with one of my heroes, the great novelist Pat Conroy. In the course of our conversation he asked where I lived in Atlanta. I said, "Fashionableeastcobbcounty, it's one word". He immediately wrote that down. I asked him what he was doing. Stealing it, he replied, to use in a future book adding, "you steal from one source, you're a plagiarist; you steal from two, you're an academic; but when you steal from five or more….you're an ARTIST."

Be an artist. Marks & Spencer has exhausted the list. Adapt it to your own company. It's all there. Here are some examples of the content: 

Ten years ago, we launched Plan A. We made 100 commitments to tackle five big issues – climate change, waste, resources, fair partnerships, and health. These issues are still as relevant as ever. They’re the beating heart of Plan A. Plan A 2025 strengthens our commitment to address these issues with 100 bold new targets. Crucially, it forces us to address questions to which we don’t yet have answers, but must address if we are to become a truly sustainable retailer.

1. to be the world’s leading retailer on engaging and supporting customers in sustainable living
2. to help 10 million people live happier and healthier lives
3. to help transform 1000 Communities
4. to champion Human Rights
5. to ensure 100% of our products address 100% of their material social and environmental impacts
6. to ensure 100% of factories are on a sustainability ladder with 50% of our products coming from the very highest Gold standard
7. to ensure our 50 key raw materials (80% by volume of what we use) come from a sustainable source
8. to set a science-based target to accelerate our shift to a low carbon business
9. to be a circular business generating zero waste
10. to be a leader on transparency

By 2025, 20% of all M&S clothing will have a special Plan A health or wellbeing attribute
By 2020, all workers in our first-tier Food, Clothing and Home manufacturing sites will have the opportunity to be paid digitally.
By 2025, we’ll aim for a living wage, for all our direct employees as set by us and reviewed by credible stakeholders in a way that is sustainable
We’ll source 100% of cotton from sustainable sources by 2019 and by 2025 will aim to have increased the proportion of Fairtrade, organic and recycled sources to 25%.
By 2025, at least 50% of M&S Clothing & Home products (by volume) will come from factories that achieve Gold level on a new Clothing & home Sustainability Scorecard and 95% of other factories have achieved at least Silver.
By 2025, for our M&S Clothing & Home products, we’ll only use dyehouses, printers, laundries, tanneries, and finishing facilities that meet credible independent standards of environmental and social sustainability.
By 2019, we’ll develop a credible methodology for measuring the water efficiency of our textile and garment wet processing and set targets for reduction by 2025.
By 2022, we’ll introduce a range of repair services for M&S Clothing & Home products.
By 2022, we'll end the use of air freight for Clothing & Home products.