For Gap Inc., environmental responsibility means far more than being “green” or selling green products. We view it as connected to every aspect of our business, from the manufacture of our clothes to how they are packaged and shipped to the design of our stores. As a global retailer, we have the potential to make a difference on critical environmental issues, such as saving energy and combating climate change. Being environmentally responsible also supports our success as a company. We believe that it allows us to innovate, create value for our business, and meet the expectations of our customers, employees and shareholders.
Over the past several years, we have worked to understand our environmental impact, design an effective strategy for driving improvements, and begin taking action across our operations. We started with a detailed analysis of the environmental challenges we face, as well as the areas over which we have the greatest control and the level of societal concern related to each. Digging even deeper, we embarked in 2008 on an environmental footprint assessment, a detailed accounting of the environmental impact of our operations. These insights have enabled us to set short- and long-term goals, direct our resources to operate more efficiently and better address climate and regulatory risks.
To have the greatest positive impact, we prioritized our efforts to focus first on the facilities that we own and operate, because we have more control over the energy they use and the waste we create and, therefore, more opportunity to create immediate change. We are now beginning to look farther into our supply chain, where we believe the majority of our impact lies. The water and energy used in manufacturing our products is a significant focus of our efforts moving forward.
Beyond examining our operations and supply chain, we are engaged in two other areas. First, we are working to identify and build on connections between our environmental and social responsibility. Our participation in the Sustainable Apparel Coalition is a case in point, as it seeks to establish standards in such areas as sustainable materials, as well as the working conditions inside factories. Second, we are supporting public policies that will help address climate change and support the development of cleaner energy sources. We are members of Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP) and support policies that will help move us forward on large-scale, systemic issues.
In all of our efforts, we are working throughout Gap Inc. to drive change, enlisting the passion and talent of our employees across numerous functions to support our business as well as our values of “Do: What’s Right” when it comes to the environment. Some of the key initiatives to maximize our effectiveness include:
Driving toward a 20 percent absolute reduction in our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for our U.S. operations by 2015.
Involving company leadership, from our Environmental Council — comprised of key leaders across the company — to our board of directors, with whom we engage about our environmental initiatives.
Partnering with external environmental groups such as Ceres and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to find new opportunities for progress.
Entering into broader and deeper coalitions to jointly address social and environmental impacts in the apparel supply chain.