Planet Earth, with all its natural resources, is the most precious asset we share. And, at Gap, we believe in protecting this resource by creating sustainable products and experiences that not only better our world, but also inspire us to act responsibly and thoughtfully. This is why we here at Gap are ramping up our efforts and planning to make a difference in the way we do business.
Today we’re excited to announce new goals that will help us achieve this mission while continuing to provide amazing clothes that are better for people and the planet.
Gap’s sustainability champion and Chief Product Officer Wendi Goldman is helping to lead the charge on these new sustainability goals. We talked to Wendi to learn more about Gap’s efforts, and here is what she told us.
Can you share what Gap is announcing today and why this is important for the brand?
I’m really excited to share that today we’re announcing that by 2021, 100% of the cotton that we source for all of our products will be sustainable cotton. This is really important for Gap brand because cotton is used in many of our core products such as denim and knits. In fact, cotton is used to make a significant portion of products across Gap Inc. brands.
And as a major consumer of cotton, we have the opportunity to make a big impact on the global cotton community, and really bring to light what’s so incredibly important to the future of garment manufacturing, what matters to us as a brand, and what matters to our customers.
What does this new commitment mean to you?
Sustainability is something I’m personally passionate about, and I’m really excited to have the opportunity to lead this initiative for Gap brand. It was less than a year ago that we decided to rapidly increase our Sustainable initiatives. We started to build goals, pitched against the places where we could make the most impact as a brand. Cotton was our number one priority and we’re so proud to formally announce our commitment to 100% more sustainable cotton by 2021.
This commitment also shows the passion and dedication of our brand, our team and our suppliers to make this achievable on this timeline. It’s proof of what’s possible when driven people are galvanized around an impactful and lofty goal.
What’s also important to me is that this commitment continues Gap’s legacy to do more than sell clothes. Giving back to the communities that we do business in has always been at the heart of our brand, our founders, and our leaders. It’s in our DNA.
Can you tell us a little bit about Gap for Good and how this cotton goal fits into the brand’s larger strategy?
Earlier this year we launched a platform that we’re calling, Gap for Good, which highlights all of Gap brand's sustainability initiatives. It has four key pillars: our commitment to sustainable cotton, our Wash Well program, our Water Quality program, and our P.A.C.E program.
I’m also really proud of our Wash Well program, which focuses on the water supply that we use in the production and dying of our denim. And our commitment within Wash Well is to leave water, which is used in the creation of our denim products, in the same or better condition than it was when it came into the process. And it’s also about utilizing less water in the production of our denim.
Images courtesy of the Better Cotton Initiative
As a member of the Gap Foundation & Global Sustainability Board of Trustees, what across Gap Inc. are we doing to be more sustainable in apparel production?
At Gap Inc., we are committed to helping the environment and also helping the people that work on our product. These two initiatives are at the backbone of Gap Inc.’s commitment to sustainability. Sustainability is about product, about people, and about giving back.
In addition to Gap’s goals being announced today, Athleta is sharing new commitments to expand the use of more sustainable fibers; to help empower the women who make its clothes; to conserve water through more efficient fabric dyeing techniques, and to reduce waste at the brand’s stores and HQ operations. In 2016, 7 million plastic water bottles were diverted from the landfill because Athleta used recycled polyester! That is amazing.
I’m so proud that brands across our portfolio are taking such big steps to make a difference in the world.
Is being environmentally conscious at the production level the future of fashion and retail?
At Gap we create and design product with an optimistic cool, elevated American style. Part of that is making product with care, that has a quality and durability that our customers expect from us. We’re not in the disposable fashion game, we are proud that our product lasts and can be handed down or reused.
We’re keenly aware that the environmental impact of the apparel industry is significant; in terms of water use, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions. And many of the top apparel sourcing countries globally are facing severe water risk.
Our commitment is to do all that we can to minimize that risk and to make the environment a better place. And not only is it important for us, and our DNA as a company, it’s also important for doing good business. We know we need natural resources to make our product, and we want to make sure the Earth is continuing to evolve and continuing to provide those natural resources. So, to the degree that we can protect them, that is really important, not only to us, but to the apparel industry at large.