For a planet positive fashion future

In the next decade, the fashion industry must embark on a transformation so profound that nothing else compares to it. Because this industry is so large, it will determine what state of a planet we hand over to future generations. To succeed, we must address challenges within the entire earth system – not only climate – but also water, ocean, biodiversity and land and across every step of the industry’s value chain. And we cannot settle with reducing negative impact or even neutralising it, instead, our actions must lead to a planet positive future. If not, we have already lost the battle.

Since 2015, the H&M Foundation has pioneered circularity as a new way of working. While circularity must be the economic model for our societies onwards and is still key to save nature’s resources, we can’t settle here.

Now, we are taking all our learnings and broadening our scope, with the ambition to move from acceleration to expansion – to create a planet positive fashion future.

Critical urgency to step up the game

Our planet positive goal is directly linked to the urgency of the 2030 deadline for the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Our aim is to speed up meaningful research and innovation that can help solve the greatest challenges our society has ever faced and thereby protect living conditions for people globally.

We can find and support early innovation, act fast and take risks in a way most companies can’t.

While most are aware of the climate goal of keeping the temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius, it’s evident that this alone won’t change the game. As the planet is made up of more than the climate, we must work holistically.

The concept of nine planetary boundaries was proposed by a group of scientists, led by Prof. Johan Rockström from the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Prof. Will Steffen from the Australian National University. The Global Commons Alliance, who works to scale science-based action, are working towards five global commons that keep Earth in a stable state.

In our work, we have combined these two models and are focusing on five planetary boundaries:

  • Climate
  • Water
  • Ocean
  • Biodiversity
  • Land

These boundaries are deeply connected and therefore can’t be addressed on its own.

Finding the answers as we go

What does a planet positive fashion future look like? No one knows. How can we get there? We don’t know. But we can’t wait for the answers. Instead we set the ambition and have started working towards it.

For example, we are now focusing our work on:

  • Regenerative farming
  • Carbon sequestering
  • Biodiversity protection and restoration
  • Water and air purification
  • Renewable energy, energy conservation and recovery
  • Radically reduce use of all natural resources

Why positive?

To make the 2030 deadline and stay well within the planetary boundaries as the global population continues to grow, we must strive for a positive regenerative impact on all parts of the planet.

If we choose to only settle for planet neutral, we have already lost our quest for a healthy and resilient planet. Why? As we are currently consuming ecological resources equivalent of 1.6 Earths per year, and the global middle class – and therefore the consumption – is increasing, we must change our habits and ambitions dramatically.

As a privately funded foundation we can find and support early innovation, act fast and take risks in a way most companies can’t. Guided by speed, scale and impact, we are using impatient research to achieve fast results. This means investing in agile research where partial solutions and beta versions are continuously released, iterated and of course impatiently scaled. We communicate about our progress and involve the industry along the way.

This method is much faster than traditional research, but also connected to higher risks as the solutions are not perfected or trialled enough yet. However, we don’t fear the imperfect, that’s how we learn and improve.

By taking the lead and starting to work towards planet positive, we hope to start a movement where the fashion industry doesn’t settle with circularity but agree to raise the bar. It’s for the sake of humanity and all living creatures on Earth.

Related projects

See all our projects in Our Work.