At Gap Inc., we believe that environmental issues are human rights issues. The environment is shared by all of us, and it’s imperative that we each do our part to protect it. That’s why we’re working hard to integrate sustainability more deeply into every aspect of our business, from the materials we source, to the suppliers that we work with, and ultimately the clothes that we all wear.
Here are six of the many important efforts underway at Gap Inc. and our family of brands that are changing the way we do business to help safeguard our planet.
Addressing Global Water Stress: Gap Inc. will conserve a total of 10 billion liters of water by the end of 2020.
Apparel manufacturing uses massive amounts of water, which means we can make a huge impact by changing our processes to conserve water. We’re committed to work with the suppliers that make our products to save 10 billion liters of water by the end of 2020. Those water savings would be the equivalent volume of the daily drinking water needed for 5 billion people. Leveraging the power of product innovation and improved manufacturing practices, we’re bringing our customers products that they not only look great in, but that they can also feel good about. We’ve been making progress and are already halfway to our goal: since 2014, Gap Inc.-led projects have saved 5.7 billion liters of water.
Our new manufacturing goal is part of Gap Inc.’s comprehensive water stewardship strategy, which also includes a focus on lessening water impacts at the raw materials and product design level, and perhaps most importantly, helping communities touched by our business improve their access to clean water and sanitation.
Sourcing cotton from more sustainable sources.
Cotton is used to make a significant portion of products across Gap Inc. brands. In 2016, Gap Inc. joined the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), which strives to make global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in, and better for the industry’s future. Indicating the rapid strides we are making to scale up, BCI recently revealed its annual ranking of top companies that source sustainably grown cotton by volume, and Gap Inc. ranked #4 for 2017. Collectively our brands have sourced more than 371 million pounds of Better Cotton since 2016.
And we’re not done. By 2021, Gap brand is committed to sourcing 100% of its cotton from more sustainable sources Old Navy will also increase its sourcing of sustainable cotton to 100% by 2022, and Banana Republic will source 100% of its cotton from more sustainable sources by 2023.
Combating Climate Change: We’re cutting the carbon footprint of all of Gap Inc.’s globally owned & operated facilities in half by 2020.
We believe that business has a critical role to play in the fight against climate change. We’ve been working for nearly 15 years to do our part by reducing our carbon footprint in big and small ways. We're currently working toward our goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions of our owned and operated facilities globally 50% by the end of 2020. We’ve also joined the Science-Based Target initiative in 2017, and are developing a goal that will help us reduce the emissions impact of our supply chain.
Reducing Deforestation: Gap Inc. will eliminate all wood-based fibers sourced from ancient & endangered forests by 2020.
By 2020, we’ll eliminate the use of any wood-derived fabrics (like rayon, viscose, lyocell, and modal) made from the pulp from ancient and endangered forests. The policy was developed in partnership with the non-profit organization, Canopy, as part of their sustainable fashion and forestry initiative known as CanopyStyle. By taking these steps to protect these crucial forests, we’re also furthering our climate change efforts, as trees are vital natural resources that help to combat climate change by removing carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere.
It’s estimated that 80% of a garment’s environmental impact is determined at the product design stage. So, the decisions behind those fabric and material selections are critical. To help solve this challenge and streamline the process, last year we launched a tool that will help our designers and merchants make more informed decisions at the very beginning of a product’s life by scoring each fiber across 10 different indicators. The new Gap Inc. Preferred Fibers Scorecard and Toolkit gives product developers a more holistic understanding of the sustainability implications of fibers – like cotton, polyester or wool.
Converting Plastic Bottles into Performance Fabrics: 80% of Athleta’s fabrics will be made with recycled content by 2020.
Athleta has prioritized the conversion of conventional raw materials to sustainable alternatives. The brand has set a goal that 80% of their fabrications will be made with recycled material, sustainable or organic cotton, Lenzing Modal or TENCEL content by 2020. Athleta recently announced it has reached 60%. By upcycling plastics into recycled fabrics, Athleta has diverted over 38 million bottles from landfills since 2015.
Reducing Our Waste Footprint: Gap Inc. will divert 80% of the waste produced by our U.S. facilities by the end of 2020.
We’re currently working to divert 80 percent of the waste produced by our U.S. facilities by the end of 2020. As a company, the biggest waste streams coming from our owned-and-operated facilities are plastic hangers and polyethylene bags. Since many of our facilities are within larger mall complexes, we’re looking for scalable solutions that address the diverse needs of our stores and distribution centers.
We know that there’s much more work to be done, but we’re proud of the ambitious goals we’ve set, and the work we’ve done to get there so far.
To learn more about the ways we’re giving back to people and our planet, head here.