In this new series, we celebrate the women who bring corporates to task from the inside, pushing for greater environmental and social forward policies.
What is your full title and where do you work?
I am the Sustainability Manager across Greater China OR Sales Market for the H&M Group. I am based in Hong Kong.
What are your main job responsibilities?
We have the goal of 100% recycled or other sustainable materials in all our products by 2030 and we collect all textiles regardless of brand, condition or quality in every store every day. My job is to engage and empower our colleagues and customers to be part of this circular fashion future and together with the other managers ensure that we run our operations in Greater China in a sustainable way, such as promoting electrical truck delivery, renewable energy, garment collecting and waste recycling etc.
How did you get your start in CSR?
It was such an insight to me that the choices I make when I go to the supermarket could have a fundamental impact on the options for a young woman of my age on the other side of the world: going to school or work, having decent working conditions or not.
I got engaged in the fair trade and sustainable consumption movement as a volunteer trainer and campaigner around 15 years ago when I was still a student in Sweden. We used to do activities in the streets and by stores, go from classroom to classroom engaging consumers to speak up about their concerns to make a difference, sign a Clean Clothes petition or buy Fairtrade certified groceries.
At that point I was already a vintage lover thanks to my parents and aunts who never threw away a garment, and a vegetarian since the mid-nineties. I never felt I had to preach my lifestyle on others, but I am very motivated by igniting that fire in the eyes of someone who suddenly realizes how they can be part of a change.
What is your proudest accomplishment/moment in your CSR role?
No doubt the most exciting moment was this September when HKRITA opened the garment-to-garment recycling mill in Tai Po. This mill has been enabled thanks to all the unwanted textile our customers has brought back to our stores. The profit H&M Group makes from the garment collecting is donated to the H&M Foundation to be invested in innovations to close the loop in fashion.
HKRITA received a part of this donation and came up with ground breaking new solutions to separate fibres in blended textile and turn it into new high-quality yarn for fashion. This really inspires our customers to see that what they consider textile waste has value and can be turned into new great fashion they later find in our stores.
What is the hardest part of your job?
Having seen UN reports and summits come and go, and increasingly experiencing the news of how people are affected by climate change world-wide, it is easy to get discouraged in this job…However I do feel that there is a strong momentum right now. It’s amazing to see from our survey in China that 8 out of 10 customers now say that sustainability is a key concern when they go shopping.
As told so Sonalie Figueiras, Green Queen Editor-in-Chief.
Check out other interviews in this series:
Lead image courtesy of Hanna Hallin.