Uniqlo, CSR and All product recycling initiative

How do you make the best use of your used clothes? Uniqlo shows how – in a way that makes you proud in doing your part.

Besides making affordable, accessible and fashionable clothing for all, Uniqlo brand, a part of Fast Retainling group based in Japan is a actually a fast growing company – not only in financial terms but also in the sustainability space.

My first connection to Uniqlo goes back years and years ago in India, when as a college student, I frequented the flea markets for some cheap “foreign” brands – needless to say, they were all used wear which found their way to India through circuitious routes. And I used to wonder why perfectly okay clothes are discarded.

Now as I’ve my self lived in Japan, I realize that the costs have been externalized to make stuff so cheap and so seasonal, that each season a new style comes along making the older ones…well seem old and dated. There’s nothing sustainable in it. But that’s another area of discussion.

Uniqlo’s recent announcement in its US stores regarding recycling all its products has put some sense in the word. Needless to say, true to Japanese system, this recycling practice has been here in Japan since 10 years. Uniqlo’s initial intention was to recycle the clothes as fuel, but with the cooperation of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), it started donating the clothes to refugee camps – shifting its focus from recycling to reuse. To that end, approximately 90% of the clothing it collects is donated to refugee camps the world over.

CSR for Uniqlo is “Changing the world for better through clothing”. Some of its activities in the CSR include:

  • All product Recycling initiative
  • Grameen Bank and Uniqlo social business in Bangldesh
  • Sponsor of special Olympics
  • Employing employees with disabilities

Stepping into a Uniqlo store fills me up with energy – the vibrancy of its neatly designed stores, the perpetual sale and above all – its highly energetic store employees. Though most of the Japanese sales staff in general are courteous and helpful, Uniqlo has a different flavor instilled in its people.

Uniqlo has shown that there can be a better use of our old and used clothing – either it can be recycled or it can be reused by the lesser economic sections of the world. Also being a Japanese company, use of English language as its official language is a step towards more open and global communication. Uniqlo’s slogan – Changing clothing, changing conventional wisdom. Change the world – has a responsibility that does greater impacts than the activities themselves.

For more: http://www.uniqlo.com/us/corp/csr.html

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