Drapers, the UK’s leading authority on fashion retailing for almost 150 years, published its Sustainability and the Consumer report at the end of 2022.  The report provides valuable insights into the priorities, preferences, and views of consumers, and we were particularly interested to read the analyses of customer’s shopping habits or intentions, and where sustainability fits when it comes to buying.

Key Findings of the Report
Two of the report’s findings that are particularly interesting, considered sustainability when shopping, and the role of the retail supply chain:

  • 77% of respondents said they now consider sustainability when buying fashion, either all the time, or sometimes.
  • 45% of shoppers also believe that retailers, rather than consumers or the government should be taking the lead on sustainability.

From our extensive work with fashion retailers, and the wider retail industry, GSA know that retailers ‘get’ sustainability and, individually and collectively, are taking responsibility for the impact their business has on the planet and people.

Sustainability & Retail Customers
M&S launched its industry-leading Plan A programme in 2007, and last year committed to being a net zero business by 2040, ten years ahead of the UK government’s strategy.

In 2020, Selfridges launched ‘Planet Earth’; the luxury retailer’s vision to “reinvent retail and change the way we shop and how we do business”. Part of this vision includes ‘Selfridges Rental’, a curated range of designer clothing available for rent.  John Lewis launched a similar venture in October 2022 with the same rental platform, Hurr.

TKMaxx through its ‘Give Up Clothes for Good’ initiative has recycled almost 2 million bags of clothing since its inception in 2004.  At the end of 2021, the company has diverted 94% of its waste from landfill.

These are just a handful of examples of the positive, consumer-facing initiatives that retailers are undertaking.  These sit alongside bigger impact strategies across retail supply chains, covering raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, waste disposal and the international workforce employed to make the clothes.

The Role of Cleaning & Sustainability
At GSA, staying in touch with our clients and understanding the ever-changing retail landscape has led to several positive, sustainable developments within our business too.  As one of the UK’s leading retail cleaning specialists, we too have looked closely at our own operations and supply chain and placed sustainability at the heart of our decision making.

Working in Partnership with our Retail Clients
Last year, we worked alongside several our key retail clients to successfully introduce sustainable cleaning across their UK estates.  We sourced, tested and introduced new cleaning products that allow us to continue to deliver first-class retail cleaning, using products that are 100% biodegradable, use 90% less packaging, are ISO-accredited and approved by the Vegan Society.  This switch to concentrated, pre-dosed cleaning products for one client along, saved a staggering 25,000 single-use plastic bottles going to landfill!

GSA’s Sustainability Promises
This year, we’ll extend our eco-cleaning to other retail clients.  We’ll also keep our focus on our other five sustainability promises which cover

  • the GSA supply chain re: consumables and machinery
  • team company transport and active travel
  • accreditations, SBTs and ecology
  • technology and digital cleaning
  • team training app

In terms of retail’s supply chain, the approach or impact of your cleaning company choice might seem almost negligible.  However, when you scale up the plastic and carbon reductions and other environmental impacts, you get a new appreciation for Greta Thunberg’s widely quoted, “you are never too small to make a difference”.

Lisa Laird, MD of GSA said,

“I’m delighted with the achievements we have made in partnership with our clients, and I look forward to building upon these in 2023 and beyond”.






You can read the full 2022 Drapers Collaborating for Change Sustainability Report here


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