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Searches on our website for information relating to 'sustainable fashion'—vegan leather, for example— started to rise in 2018 and have remained a high-performing search category ever since.

Sustainable fashion matters to many of our customers, but it has always mattered to M&S. In 2007, we launched Plan A, an ambitious corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme like no other at the time. We became the first major retailer to be carbon neutral (read our declaration), the first to launch a supplier map showing every clothing supplier we work with, and the first to launch daywear for children with disabilities.

But it isn’t just those big moments that matter. We’ve recently taken what may seem a small, but is in fact an important big step in sharing our sustainability credentials with our customers: adding information about the materials making up over 4,000 clothing products to the pages of M&

Customers will be able to click on the 'details & care’ link when shopping online to find out more about the sustainability credentials of the materials that makes up that item. For example: recycled polyester, organic cotton or sustainably-sourced TENCEL™ Lyocell (natural wood pulp from sustainably managed forests, and fiber production processes that are kinder to the environment). And don't worry we explain all these terms on the website too: you don’t have to be a textile scientist to understand the sustainability story behind what you’re buying!

And it's not just customers want clear sustainability information about raw materials, it matters to the sustainability partners we work with too. It gives them confidence that we're representing their work accurately.

Small actions can make a big difference

We want our online customers to be confident that shopping with us is a more sustainable choice. From the 'grand'—the solar panels on the roof of our online warehouse that cover an area equivalent to 11 football pitches—to the more modest—adding a further 25 charities to our relaunched Sparks scheme—we’re continually looking for ways to improve.

This month for example, we’ve started telling customers that we'll stop including paper delivery slips with online orders. This simple change will save 140 tonnes of paper each year!

Download M&S Sustainable Online Shopping infographic (PDF) 

Sparking change together

The unprecedented impact of Covid-19 across the clothing sector has been felt acutely by both retailers, suppliers, and our sustainability partners around the world. The pandemic has changed some shopping habits forever, but it hasn’t changed the importance of sustainability. We're doing as we've always done: sourcing with care and making clothes responsibility. And it’s why we’ll keep making changes, big and small so we can spark change together.

Want to know about the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)?

M&S has been at the forefront od relf sourcing sustainable cotton and became a pioneer member of BCI back in 2009. In 2019 we reached the target of sourcing 100% of the cotton for our clothing ranges more sustainably. The majority of this cotton is sourced as Better Cotton.

M&S’s commitment to sourcing sustainable cotton remains as important as ever and the team at BCI is also working hard to support cotton farming communities through this challenging time. BCI have recently set up a Covid-19 Hub and published a blog on BCI farmers and Covid insurance.