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The Business Case for Sustainability

POSTED UNDER Go Green Employee Resource Groups

Earlier this year, leading executives gathered in New York City for Macy’s second annual Earth Week panel discussion. This year’s theme was “The Business Case for Sustainability,” and it was moderated by Steve Binkowski, group vice president of Purchasing and Operations at Macy’s. Sponsored by Macy’s Go Green Employee Resource Group (ERG) and Macy’s Merchandising Group’s Sustainability Committee, the event featured a panel of sustainability superstars, including:

  • Cara Smyth, Founder of Fair Fashion Center and vice president at Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Nancy Golden, senior vice president at Welspun
  • Carl Fortin, Branding & Marketing executive at Archroma U.S.
  • Shawndell Williams, senior manager of Planning, Size Analytics at Macy’s Merchandising Group
  • Bhushan Joshi, Energy and Sustainability Services, Global Solutions at Schneider Electric

This event was created to give Macy’s Associates more opportunities to learn about green initiatives and hear from business leaders who are currently engaged in helping to reduce environmental impact within the retail industry. Panelists shared how their companies’ individual efforts are a part of a larger transformation within the apparel and retail sectors to rethink “business as usual” in the era of climate change and finite resources. Panelists spoke about how they are integrating sustainability into their business, discussed successes and challenges, and considered the importance of industry partnership in tackling today’s most pressing issues.

The panel discussed how scalability is one of the most important issues for the retail and apparel industries to tackle. According to Newsweek, the amount of apparel waste in America has doubled in the last 20 years, from approximately 7 million to 14 million tons thrown away each year, or 80 pounds per person annually. The scale of the problem requires big solutions, not just one-off projects or small-batch product ideas. This includes looking at waste streams, such as trash, and thinking about how the materials can be remade into completely new products. The level of sophistication in recycled materials available today makes it possible to produce gorgeous products without even realizing it’s sustainable. Brands, such as Patagonia, G-Star and Nike, can attest to this. Scalable quantities allow sustainability to become mainstream, which is ultimately how the retail and apparel sectors can make a greater positive impact on the environment.

“When it comes to sustainability, there is so much opportunity to rethink the way we operate and produce products,” said Harmony Eberhardt, photo producer of the Macy’s Fashion Studio and co-chair of the Go Green ERG in New York City. “I find that the dialogue is the most exciting part. I love engaging in these conversations at work and exposing people to new ideas and new ways of thinking,” she said. Aside from the informative discussions, some of the panelists made valuable connections with each other and have indicated that they plan to continue to work together to bring new innovations to retail. We look forward to seeing what new ideas will come to fruition by next year’s event.

Find out more about our Go Green ERGs and the other great work they do to promote sustainability. Then, suggest a panel topic you’d like to hear about next year.


You also might like:

2016 Earth Week Sustainability Panel

Are You Smarter Than Our Expert? Results

Macy’s Annual “Trashion” Show

Earth Week 2017 Recap

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