Saving the Planet

Most big businesses like to give something back, but Gap has gone above and beyond the call of duty. Gap has been recognised on the list of the world’s top 100 corporate citizens for well over a decade now, coming out on top more than once.

The brand continues to commit to environmental policies, being keenly aware of how dependent the quality of its clothing is on the state of the planet.

Our company can only thrive in a world with abundant natural resources and a healthy environment that supports all of our well-being. When we reduce our energy usage and emissions, we’re not just doing our part, but engaging with something bigger, something which affects all of us – a global effort to solve one of the world’s most serious challenges.

Alongside our supply chain work, we are aware that we have the greatest power to reduce our environmental impact on our own operations. Our transportation team works hard to achieve carbon emission reductions while streamlining our business practices. These efforts reduce environmental impact and are cost-effective.

This is why, since 2007, we have been actively engaged with Ceres, a leading nonprofit organisation dedicated to mobilising the business community to build a sustainable economy. As a member of Ceres’ Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) coalition, we advocate for progressive policy action on climate and energy issues, and aim to achieve a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from our owned and operated facilities globally by the end of 2020.

To this end, we’ve installed LED lighting—which uses 80% less energy than conventional lights—in over 1,000 of our stores.  However, we’re fully aware that our supply chain produces a much larger carbon footprint than our stores.

In order to deal with this, we work closely with our suppliers to measure their environmental impact. Gap Inc. was one of the first members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition to carry out a large-scale rollout of the Higg Index to our entire cut-and-sew and fabric mill suppliers. The aim is to reduce the carbon emissions of Gap’s products and manufacturing processes, and ultimately to reduce climate risk from the impact of sourcing.

New ideas in manufacturing include the circular economy model. Despite advances in recycling technology the fashion industry currently loses up to 75% of the value of materials in the first production cycle. Industry-wide, a shift to circular economy principles, where sustainability and recycling are at the core of the business operations, could total £160 Billion by 2030. This will involve a cultural shift, however.  Currently, only 18% of the clothes market is second-hand or vintage and recycling of fabric is not done to the extent it should be. This is changing with major retailers offering clothes recycling points in store. This recycled fabric, under the circular economy model would go back into fabric manufacture, meaning less new materials are used, helping to reduce reliance on virgin materials, which mean a better environment for all.