The Sustainability in Retail Panel

Every industry faces tough sustainability issues, and retail is no exception. Earlier this year, leading executives joined together at the Sustainability in Retail panel discussion to face the challenges head on. Our Go Green Employee Resource Group and Macy’s Merchandising Group’s Sustainability Committee co-hosted the event at our New York City offices. The panel discussed the growth of eco-fashion and ways Macy’s, Inc. and other companies can embrace this trend to shape a more sustainable retail industry.

The event was moderated by Jim Sluzewski, Macy’s senior vice president of Corporate Communications & External Affairs and a member of our Sustainability Leadership Team. The panel featured a diverse group of industry leaders:

  • Michael Kobori, VP of Sustainability, Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Mark Messura, Senior Vice President, Global Supply Chain Marketing of Cotton Inc.
  • Sean Murphy, Cofounder, Chief Creative Officer, YFYJupiter
  • Lewis Perkins, President, Cradle to Cradle
  • Marci Zaroff, Founder of Under the Canopy and Metawear

Throughout the lively discussion, panelists shared ideas about how they have pioneered sustainability in their industries, specifically exploring the idea of eco-fashion as a white-space opportunity and what it means to customers. The enlightening discussion touched on the importance of sustainability and transparency to the critical Millennial market. It also tackled topics, such as the current retail market for sustainable/organic products, the product life cycle assessment and strategies for incorporating sustainability into companies that are the size and scale of Macy’s. To conclude this informative event, audience members got the chance to learn about Macy’s current social responsibility efforts, our sustainability accomplishments and our future goals.

So what is eco-fashion? Eco-fashion, also called sustainable fashion, is a part of the growing design philosophy and trend of sustainability – the goal of which is to create a system which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment and social responsibility.

The impact of apparel production alone is staggering. A single pair of regular jeans requires 2,912 liters of water (enough to provide basic survival needs for a person for two years). The use of toxic chemicals, including some carcinogens and 12 square meters of harvested land, according to the Levi Strauss & Co. “The Life Cycle of a Jean” study.

The panel found that the growing awareness around the environmental and social impacts of the global apparel industry demands that we all rethink the way we do business, and retailers and manufacturers alike are getting on board. In addition to the great work Macy’s and Bloomingdale's are doing on a daily basis, H&M, Target, Walmart, Eileen Fisher and Kering Group are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and preserve the environment for future generations. In fact, panel participant Levi Strauss & Co. is researching the potential for introducing “green jeans.”

Leadership at Macy's, Inc. also emphasized that we continually learn about what the best and most important actions are for the company and implement them whenever possible. (See our latest Sustainability in Action) On our road to sustainability, Macy's strives to get better every day.

For more information about this panel, watch the full 2016 Sustainability in Retail Panel video.